Poker Podcasts 2024

The complete-ish guide to every poker podcast

You may not know much about the poker podcasts you don’t listen to. Nearly all published guidance to the market is click-bait or AI drivel. Google’s and Spotify’s overwhelmed algorithms promote long-dead pods and one-off efforts, while burying some of the best content.

Maybe that’s okay, though, because if you were to repeat my research, you’d realize most poker podcasts are simply duplicative, recycling the same guests, same questions, and same subjects.

Yet that’s the good news, as it means interest in the game remains high. So, buckle up: about 50 poker podcasts and talk shows are more or less active. (Less than there was in 2020-23) Note that this compilation goes beyond its mission and includes a few tangential pods as well.

Podcast links are in the titles. Smaller titling means peripheral poker content. Regularly updated, occasionally republished since 2019. Retired podcasts at the bottom. Last update 5/2024. If I’ve missed a podcast, leave a comment. Full reviews are behind the read more button.

The Top Ten Best Poker Podcasts

1. Thinking Poker

Andrew Brokos is undeniably versed in poker and its communication. Continuous, reliable programming of what poker players both need and want is here: high-level strategy, combined with non-trivial human interest. That’s a winning combination.

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Andrew’s agreeable and smoother co-host Nate Meyvis (departed) provides good cop, good cop back-up. Thinking Poker shares length with many other poker podcasts, but actually works with a more focused long-form, as opposed to the five minute, say-hello prop-ops, or the aimless hour of poker gossip that is the methodology of many other, less popular and fading shows: lesson there, boys and girls. Admittedly, some things have always gotten in the way. Thanks to the second (?) interlude, I’ll have to forever associate their poker strategy discussion with a depressing woman who does not inspire enough sexual devotion from her man; cue the horn of lament. However, that’s just our hosts’ extraction for entry – nothing is ever free and the cost is never the cost.

Notably, Andrew and Nate have been on the ball with AI poker developments, not only interviewing scientists but reporting on their play against the machine. Thinking Poker smartly kicks off the pod with a strategy segment – Andrew knows to satisfy his audience first before indulging himself. This pod is hundreds of hours of serious and moderately fun content – and they are not stopping, having just unveiled a new, more navigable website. In the poker podcasts category of the GPI awards, this was one of my selections. [2021] Andrew, mostly by himself it seems, continues to carry the banner, while selling a bit more product.  Inevitably, amiable tournament try-hard Carlos Welch replaces the increasingly absent Nate Meyvis at the end of the year, but it’s the continuity of a great show that is the real story. Andrew’s 20-year cold is getting worse, making his voice more and more nasal and even slurpy; he will become the Slavoj Zizek of poker eventually, not an entirely bad thing. [4/2022] Episode on tournaments is revelatory, but not in the way you might think. This post-hoc, rationalizing strategy tendency shows how empty and unsolved much of poker, especially tournament poker is. Winners win, yes, but winners also hawk content. Of course your stack had value earlier in the tournament – who were these experts who said otherwise? Well, they have your training dollars, but no one knows where they are now. Listening to our assorted sun-running rubes explain their strategy is the emperor removing his remaining clothes, but in this case the joke is on the audience for admiring such an ugly strip-tease. Brokos, fortunately, is at heart better than this and has stuck to the fundamentals for years now. [9/2022] Alex Jacob of trivia fame comes on but no word on his wife’s opinionated twitter takes; he’s tired of poker and likes, well, trivia. The pod partners with killer ap GTOW: time to make some money. [12/2022] At this point the pod is as much about its stellar catalog as its recent episodes. [5/23] New episodes with the women of poker and Saulo are strong – Andrew is the rock of poker strategy podcasting.

Thinking Poker, in a teensy bit of a torpor for a while, rose up for a stellar 2023. So good, in fact, Andrew and Carlos can have a “best-of” episode that doesn’t feel thin. Now that’s a meaty podcast. [2/24] I check out the Isaac Haxton podcast with high hopes but it’s quite the let-down, being mostly empty until the discussion on multiway solves and theory. I realize that while it’s hard to listen to Andrew’s nasally speaking, and certainly to Isaac’s even more absurd choking gargle, this is the price of listening to the nerds, and they still often know best. Always balanced, the poker greats, and nothing is ever perfect.

Rating: AKs

2. Sessions

Billy/DGAF is in the middle, right now, of documenting the live cash game scene post Black Friday, and more importantly, the lies and truths of the game. There won’t be another podcast like this, as Billy is an authentic live grinder in a world of staked equity lottery wonders. He sucks and is great, he wins and he loses, he ages gracefully and disgracefully into poker. Billy tells his story and hawks product with a voice that is both fading and expressive. Unlike the sunbaked poker elephants Jennifer focuses on, who will come and go on the ocean of variance, Billy is poker: he plays with you every night, know it or not, and is everywhere the live game is. On Sessions, you get to listen in on this entire world, all of it trivial and universal and personal – just like poker itself.

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[8/2/20] DGAF is carrying on with podcasting despite losing his basic premise, coverage of the live grind, through musings and interviews. [8/2021] Back on the grind all year, the struggle is palpable but he has moved up to bigger games, yet without a bankroll. On one night, he’s even back to some of the same late night, high-stakes short-handed bloodbaths; on the next, he’s back in “red-chip” hell. Now, at the end of his “Save the Princess” tour of duty, it’s clear all his contradictions and self-soothing and problems are about to collide, as he plans to play more and bigger even as his love of the game diminishes, and time runs out on everything.

[2022] Just a few weeks into the season, it seems Billy needs a vacation. The good news is that his story remains enjoyable, and his presentation continues to improve with each season; the gimmick of the STP is over, though and the bluff long since called. The new “gangster returns” theme for this charismatic and colicky poker baby on perpetual tilt is a bit comical but probably plays well to the home crowd. [3/2022] Billy has now had a few key breakthroughs, not exactly all the money he thought would change everything, but better digs, a part-time job, and a casino home full of friendlies at the Hustler. The Las Vegas red chip hell chapter is over – very long in coming and with some lessons still unabsorbed. He sounds… well, good. It’s nice to hear. However, all the talk and ego and endurance get put to the test now, as Billy plays under the lights for the first time and hosts games: no more hiding, in the wee gamblers’ hours or in all the words. Sometimes, you don’t get to not know. [5/2022] Things have taken a turn for the strange. Being involved in the high stakes LA scene is a bit like being invited to the Playboy Mansion; it’s hard to screw up but you can easily forget reality. Constant theme of being tired is nightmarish and good storytelling; news of his special chat group as Billy becomes more and more inaccessible adds a distinct dystopian note to his sandcastle society. Is success around the corner or a massive stumble? Either way, this is what he wanted. [6/2022] Growing pains as he lands in the berry patch of a forced action game but some patrons are struggling with the now less personal touch; he notes a lack of subscriber growth which I think is predictable but will ultimately bring him significant gains once he finds new footing. Billy continuously, now almost bizarrely tells us he might give up the podcast if he doesn’t make his fundraising goal, but it’s a little stale: you only get to use that trick so many times and of course that is the last thing that will happen; he always was a bluffer and the podcast changed his life. Next, the dog story and his obvious exhaustion, on public view in the Hustler games, is good listening.

As July 2022 closes, a theme of truth versus reality and what the story really is has re-emerged, no doubt because for the first time, success seems imminent, although I’m not personally so sure. Nevertheless, it’s a watershed year. There are several subplots at present, one being a race between Billy’s health and his opportunity to quickly pay down the debt thanks to the stars aligning on the Hustler front. He has headaches, clearly from overwork and lack of sleep; at one point I see him on stream and he looks absolutely fraught; his health clearly is in actual peril but he reports mitigating it lightly with exercise and some more delegation. Long nights, alcohol, and no sleep are a familiar path for the live grinder but we are all getting old, alas. He seems obsessed with the idea that admitting he is tired is bad storytelling or that his audience doesn’t want to hear it; of course it is the opposite, in a curious misread and the podcast remains as good as ever. Billy wisely sells action but pitches it (sometimes resentfully) as a favor to everyone that was unnecessary to him; it’s an interesting half-truth. In fact, DGAF is insistent, almost adamant that nearly everything he does is for somebody else; the strain between his self-image and his goals is part of the struggle. The drama is changing, in other words, just like the stakes.

Looking to the future, Billy’s fate is increasingly tied to the growth of the Hustler, and more drama on this front is inevitable. He knows the score and is working hard to make his Monday game indispensable. His recurring cultural wisdom strikes the observer, as he continues to hit the right notes again and again. He is a natural marketer and lives up to his billing as sensitive to all sorts of things. Some people see the wins and think the struggle is all over, forgetting, among other things, that our hero is capable of incredible losses and even seems to will them on occasion. The podcast of late even contains hints he is, in fact, aware that the old patterns of profligacy are returning (they have been for a long time). It’s all part of the growing pains and the new equilibrium of his big steps forward. Overall, Billy is as or more qualified than anyone to negotiate west coast culture and poker, with all its enforced laxness and ideological consumerism: Hollywood sells more than just Californication, and this is his scene, “judgments” or no.

So, Sessions continues to be a strong pod, one of few that really matter, but now more complex. Some things still drag the pod from really taking off nationally: above all, Billy is repetitive, and the listener sometimes needs to skip through familiar stories. The sound drops, which Billy plainly adores, and which you’d probably have to pry out of his dead hands, continue. I notice the baby sound has some interesting interior meaning for him as the trolls and fanboys and traitors complicate his once private-ish life and he retreats ever so slightly into himself to deal with (and alternately rages against) the never-satisfied poker community – including his own. A beer, if not peace, awaits.

On cue, Billy takes a massive loss mid-August. He naturally laments being in make-up but omits that his deal works peculiarly- he’s always in makeup, essentially, as the deal allowed him to pull money once the investors were paid an initial sum, as reported. With this and some feedback surprises, he is, for a few weeks anyway, furious with himself, with his community, with the world; alone, surrounded by people but listening to no one but the hurricane, a low-key Lear of the poker grind. In a later episode, his passion for not being “judged” reaches an apotheosis in yet another rant about how people who make judgements can’t think, while assigning his children the ability to judge him in a kind of traditional patriarchal grandiosity. It’s a peculiar stand, because it’s so normal yet so vociferous. Unfortunately, the world is always making judgements – it’s part and parcel of our essential nature and story. Billy doesn’t like it and is as affected by his supporters’ and detractors’ behaviors as you might imagine. What’s happening at large is that Billy and his audience are adjusting to new roles and new expectations, and change is always painful and disorienting. His supporter pyramid and his contact with others has changed as he really bears down on changing his life and embraces his new roles at Hustler. DGAF’s particular story continues, but also continuously reveals universal and California themes. At bottom, I sense more and more of the podcast is really not only just about his children, but directed at them, his true audience. It’s slightly alienating or encouraging for the listener based on who they are and has subtly reshaped his audience this year – their coming and going is mysterious to him, but the content’s direction is always the answer – another lesson for storytellers.

Fall of 2022 brings tension and change, as the show becomes about the Garrett/Robbie scandal and Billy’s painful reaction to the public spotlight of these situations. There was always this danger in becoming a stream game persona, he seemed to know it in advance, so it’s not just about cheating. It’s about the intersection of the public and private, and sunglasses only block so much heat and light. As 2022 closes the podcast has taken on a recurrent ranting quality, an ever-so-slightly sour note that is costing a few patrons, because it’s no longer quite the relaxing or distracting podcast its creator imagines it is or was. However, that is the beauty of any story, and the sour note just reminds me of how he loves those over-fermented, juicy beers with his Korean bbq. Instead, Billy is rightly focused more than ever on what really matters: the life story rather than the persona, getting out of debt, being efficient with his time, and, of course, his endless battle with the “nits” within and without. As the year closes Billy grows repetitive; he’s tired and the stupidity of the accusations is wearisome. He needs a vacation desperately. No one believed he would stop in 2023, but we have to go through with the points game comedy. In the same vein, he says he is retired, even as his play is more important than ever: in fact, he has almost reached his goal but is deep in make-up. The stories we tell ourselves and others are a big theme of Sessions and poker itself.

Season six starts out strangely before suddenly becoming extremely strong. At first there is an unclear schedule and a humorously dragging live show from the HCL felt. Billy continues with the wishful story that he is retired when he is not, when it is “the end” when it is not: we all try to control the narrative but usually just fool ourselves and not others. Instead of an ending, this season seems like a mishmash of ideas that will lead to a new beginning: Billy as part of the larger poker industry, from grinder to insider. The mess means his brain trust is not helping him of late, or more sadly, as a result of missing out on a real vacation in 2022, but he is still as charismatic and determined as ever. Health is a real concern. [2/23] Speaking of, January closes on a high with a long episode of communal excess in vegas; the hard living is both necessary to his existence and also worrisome – we can rarely have it all. Then, the next long episode is one of his best ever, ending beautifully in tone, with a slow, quiet landing. The next is just as good: I’m tempted to move Sessions up to number one, which I didn’t think could happen only a month ago. The writing quality, hardened by 2022’s amazing success and equal hardships, has reached a new height. Billy used to have the recurring tic of saying “I don’t know, I don’t know,” but it has left his performances of late, leading to some of his most effecting and effective narrations – the GPI overlooking this podcast is absolutely, unequivocally shameful. On a technical note, the live show sound and delivery improve: new beginnings, not endings.

[4/23] Refocusing on health (and on HCL) after not liking this writing about him and still frothing at all the ridiculous criticism he has endured since J4o, the war’s front has shifted. Billy’s staking crew trouble and infuriate him – money always tears apart families in the end – and so he goes out on his own, taking a loan rather than the corporation’s backing. His live poker chops and the berry patch game he’s ingeniously created immediately deliver for him, but it’s still a struggle, of course: the variance of poker is hard for amateurs and uninformed listeners to truly grasp; and yes, he is still deep in debt. So close, yet so far: freedom for him is almost a mirage, a hoax – in one episode he feels almost at peace with death. The theme of overwork and exhaustion never left the podcast, despite all the great developments, but now he is trapped by work and needs help. Billy’s dedication to his family, girlfriend, and the idea of loyalty itself is pulling him through the difficulties more than his support community, which he feels (correctly) has disintegrated: always drama, but this makes for good story fiber. It seems like even to the end of the Sessions, this will be one of the best poker media projects ever, if not the best one, but one that stays beyond the always blind eyes and deaf ears of the banal poker industry and its endless lionization of grasping vloggers, flailing egirls, and all the three-foot monsters of “content.”

[5/23] Conflict with the patrons as Billy continues to shift his identity to HCL, which he has called a “family” – not something he says any longer about his subscriber community. The toll of the absurd cheating allegations, which only cranks and fools believe, continue to haunt him disproportionally. A more real source of pain is likely the staking issues which have stung both emotionally and fiscally. The story of “coming up” and paying down debt has oddly hit a bit of a lull – what’s next seems critical. Billy has made HCL a success as much as anyone has and his loyalty is ferocious – could he move up somehow or get more into the business? The future shifts a tick. On cue, Yaple taps him for more hosting duty, and the interior story ticks on, somewhat obscured by the HCL talk show personality, new duties, and the Max Pain Monday rollercoaster. His loneliness over the last year in the midst of celebrity is striking and unabated but work is his salvation. Kids, girlfriends, friends and fans can be great, but it’s never easy. The open secret is, you miss even the difficulty and the pain, eventually: enjoy it all while you can.

[7/2023] Major shift in performative attitude marks this year of the pod: the cost of illusions lost and, perhaps, a sort of maturation, as he seems to want to rise above the conflicts of 2022 which aggrieved him so much. It’s clear the relationship has changed. (Relistening to the intense “That Smell” pair of episodes, the absolutely frenetic pace of problems and issues is amazing, hard to even keep up with Billy’s insane schedule and constant problems.) There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel; his challenge is that he’s still in the tunnel after all this.

Of late, a listener’s comparison catches his ear: a Sisyphean task isn’t the worst thing, we must remember. One of the finest essays of the 20th century, the Myth of Sisyphus, by A. Camus, concludes with the idea that this is our lot as humans, and we must learn to “be happy for Sisyphus.” This is relevant, as Billy is tired and sometimes speaks of being okay with his task on this planet ending. He is often alone and allows himself no real friends, classic celebrity-style. He still takes the losses terribly, painfully – the struggle is in him, even after all these years. However, the other side of the Sisyphus comparison is also relevant: the hero’s task was not his choice but a sentence for his pride which had offended the gods. In fact, as it is with all of us, old patterns never die no matter how much he stresses living the “examined life” that Socrates recommended: every choice the hero makes is right, he listens to no one, he picks his friends and allies tragically, always fighting with them in the end and needing to make up time years later. Similarly, he continues to lament that others have opinions and reactions to his thoughts and actions, still seeking that imaginary land where everyone is thoughtlessly cool on some SoCal beach of the mind. So, it’s all very Greek and really is the rare poker character drama, giving his story firm legs and a loyal(ish) following. Of late, his complaints about his patrons and listeners and the public reaction to his art have grown, occupying long stretches of the podcast in echoes of the great Lenny Bruce. Then the script flips, and he stops posting publicly, dedicated again to those actually supporting him.

1/24 An 8th season emerges, as predicted. Unlike the start of the 7th season, which featured Billy at the pinnacle of his story telling, with some episodes reaching an almost “This American Life” literary quality, we now hear a new tone of depression and anger and even a need for vengeance. He seems to have disappeared to Vegas for weeks and returned emptyhanded; the new theme song, for the first time, doesn’t really seem to fit his image but suits the malcontentedness. It’s always been work being a degen, and how he copes with the coming challenges will be key. Is Billy too sensitive for vengeance? Something keeps one from seeing how he will fight the “infringments.” What is more likely is this will be a year of personal growth and business success and ultimate maturity. His year of obsessing over his health has yielded little but content; we spend a fruitless episode in the emergency unit as culmination of a long substory. The good news is his new late night poker show is looking feasible and his patronage remains strong. The GPI Awards shaft him again, but with more and more of his content paywalled, perhaps that is just.

[2/24] What he overlooks, at his most desperate, is just how accomplished he actually is. He feels bad when comparing himself to the comfortable whales in this game, but the potential sale of Sessions to Hollywood would set him up for life and allow him to salvage his dreams. Even if that doesn’t happen, there are a thousand ways to leverage his hard work of the past decade.

Whatever he does, this is the podcast that counts, because Sessions remains the story of the live grinder, that player-cum-gambler who so belongs to the game he is meant to play that he cannot escape its torments. It is striking how far he has come, from midnight heads up rat to game host, commentator, broadcaster, and genuine poker culture icon, in a pursuit of financial freedom that now seems as far off as ever. The true gambler lives in cash liquidity and the present, never the future. Rating: JJ

3. Third Man Walking

The quiet and probably too-excellent audio diary of L.A. sun-runner Charlie Wilmoth. There is a shade of mass audience ambition to this podcast with its (admittedly overly repeated) soundtrack effect, and the cadence of a man who listens to a lot of NPR. Charlie seems to very rarely lose (even mentioning an absurd eighteen month winning streak) or be without nut hands and blockers; his podcast is the literal opposite of DGAF’s painfully messy “Sessions” of runbad street poker. (I mention the streak to a grizzled vet I know and he doesn’t even believe it, but I do.) Yes, indeed, here are the thoughts of the dreaded if misnomered ‘New Pro.’

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The pod’s theme music represents complexity, panic, or alertness but doesn’t seem to mirror the staid host at all; we even see some pedestrian online complaining that he is headed for a giant loss in November when negative volatility finally arrives. Then, breakthrough: Charlie, in one of the better moments in all of poker podcasting, convincingly and plainly describes the real feeling of being lost in the dark forest of the poker game. In other words, the music was never really about his turtlenecked presentation at all, it’s about what can be going on internally. So many good episodes already, including one where Charlie sees through the illusory nature of the Texas games. The December Having a Plan commentary is sharply insightful, and Charlie retells the notorious IQ anecdote as well as possible; he is an unusually bright voice of the genuine game. I did not really enjoy episode 13, which Charlie dedicated to taking down Matt Berkey. We have to wonder if Garret Adelstein or other unusual winning players would take such grief if they dared teach or share questionable ideas with such an ungrateful bunch as the poker community. Charlie, himself an artist, dismissively refers to Berkey’s vocabulary, his interesting poker imagination, and even his personality itself during this regrettably small-minded review; no one fair thinks Berkey teaches his punts nor is unable to translate his concepts into more standard ones. In another podcast, Charlie admits to being judgmental – it may be holding him back not only in poker but in the tone of the podcast, which is a tad austere (in one episode he castigates the very degens he takes his income from when they participate in covid parties). More to the point, Charlie gets kicked out of his online berry patch whereas the whole point of Berkey’s style revolves around staying in such a game. Despite this paean to homogenous poker thinking and his directive to “follow the solver,” I’m overall very impressed by Charlie’s content, especially given this solo pod format tends to flame out quickly; he is persistent and a winner in many ways. Great title, too. Can Charlie be a poker stream commentator? Apparently, I’m just out of it, because he already is one, it’s simply for the increasingly left-behind LATB from which we have been thankfully relieved by the Hustler. With his talent, Charlie can likely separate himself from tank-tapping shoutout master JJ and find a bigger, better platform. In fact, I would say poker media, currently starving of new, intelligent voices, actually needs him, but for now, he is a boutique poker interest. [2022] 3MW was not in the GPI nominations, confirming much of what we know about that bumbling if genuinely well-meaning effort by Eric Danis. Later, in an episode on tournaments Charlie whacks almost all the moles but somehow misses the most obvious conclusion as to why he has done poorly in tournaments compared to his bread and butter; all narrators are unreliable and all characters blind.  Next, he moves to some self-examination which re-reveals an otherwise sedate and contented man alienated by the brave high-wire act he has taken up; the gentrification of the prole space of poker has created these odd juxtapositions, where upright Protestant mores overlap the criminal, free-wheeling element that also made America. For poker players, it seems that surviving these contradictions requires a lot of self-talk and media self-projection, usually trending along the poles of Goggins the father or Brene Brown/Elliot Roe the mother. If or when the shoe slips the wire, how will comfortable Charlie respond? Some hints in his paranoia that a strong opponent may be playing back at him. In other words, this is good stuff, containing a certain psy-drama I hadn’t noticed until now; bumping the score.

Next, 3MW moves to CLP, (I suppose fulfilling the prophesy that he would move up the industry ladder, we’ll see if his tethering to the floundering LATB remains) complete with an unexpected 60’s meets the 30’s logo; will the walking man turn and shoot, Albert Broccolli style? Or just fold massive hands to tepid jokes on Insta? In any case, the subtitle to the podcast no longer makes sense, now ensconced and supported by the populous site that held Limon’s babies hostage and draws almost as much attention from the friendly noobs as RCP itself. Cue brass section and stratocaster for a new chapter. In his first CLP sponsored outing, Charlie describes the soft games of L.A. His long-term goal will have to be how to help foster this game state, whether he knows it or not. When you profess to something, it is a commitment to the vitality of a way of life- that’s why true pros in poker are few and far between, and what we have instead a lot of intelligent but misguided young men on extended wanderlusten, grasping at crypto, productivity theories, social media trickle down treacle and the other falling stars of our galactic American decadence.  Latest episode feels more CLP already as Charlie recreates the old Bart Hanson session reviews he recounts enjoying. He closes May with a nuanced take on cheating and self-deception. More cheating next, this time with Houston “Arlan Eustis” Curtis’ book. It’s an opportunity to take on more nuance but this time Charlie is outraged, clearly influenced by his work connection; even the funny phrase “respectable poker community” somehow escapes his lips. However, all the irony pales when the upshot of the episode is that Inspector Cloujoe will apparently get to the bottom of this. I want to dismiss the next episode as listener question filler for a podcaster who wants a break, especially when it starts with the “what do I do if I’m tired of running, coach” stuff, but Charlie closes the episode with an almost meditation-worthy reflection on the pro poker life. Steve Albini turns out to be more interesting than his social media regurgitations imply, especially when Charlie gets him going on expected value in life and the game. The month closes with hands and strategy and more unusually clear-headed observations on where edge comes from; however, no comments on the inherent contradictions of the “studied” style and remaining on your favorite beach. Do the CLPers point out the flaws in the hand strategy or is it all praise and useless sympathetic emojis? Suddenly it appears that, like Billy, Charlie might be more alone, not less, having achieved public success. I suppose all themes are eternal.

August begins with news of Charlie continuing his industry laddering, this time to commentator on the rowdy and popular Hustler stream. The pod covers the agony of bomb pots, which are the ultimate test of one’s grasp of poker theory, as well as a fun moment of bitchiness. September closes with a good session report, where Charlie captures some poker reality, although one has to wonder: almost all live sessions get weird and are full of weirdos here in LV, so are things really that good in California? The pod carries on into autumn with lots of short form poker culture commentary.

As 2022 winds down, it’s clear Charlie is feeling a tad aimless; the podcast is probably going to be revised or rejuvenated in some way, because the overall story has lost its trajectory and the episodes are increasingly, well, episodic. What’s happened is that the Hustler shake-up and world economy has trickled down and thrown off LA poker’s path in an interesting and unnerving way. Blame the immigrants, AM Bart reminds us, and not incorrectly, alas. Charlie also has slightly struggled to truly incorporate the outsider aspect of the podcast into the CLP fold. In the final episode of the year, Charlie returns to what is his favorite structure: an oral essay on some poignant topic followed by some CLP-influenced hand reviews. The portrayal of poker has been deeply misconstrued, especially by the 2+2 clown crew, and it’s gratifying to hear a far smarter take on the matter, as well as an acknowledgement of the embarrassingly maligned Card Counter. The poker “community” does not know how good they have it when it comes to films, just as they are mostly unaware of how lucky they are to have Charlie’s occasional meditations.

[2/23] A tone new or less common to Charlie’s programming emerges briefly in an opinion piece on how regs and pros aren’t maximizing; he sounds less objective and older, all of a sudden – a man with opinions and experiences defending himself from some unnamed accusation. Meanwhile, his hand reviews continue to have a humorous, cat-playing-with-mice quality. The games are good, as he himself says. [4/23] Latest essay on being good for the game is so vacillating it could be a hidden simile for equilibrium frequencies. However, that’s somewhat fair – being good for the game requires judgement only the most senior players can truly balance, and has been abused of late by those who need to justify themselves. Truthiness, if not truth, is our watch word. As the WSOP winds up its frenzy of equity lottery convolutions, Wilmoth, allergic to such variance, instead chooses to take poker marketeer Jonathan Little’s side in a minor squabble over the semantics of the poker dream. Of course, Berkey’s real point could never be stated by those with reputations worth their weekly laundering: Little is the most successful hustler of meaninglessness and soured poker knowledge in the game itself, and so seeing his anodyne trivialities show up in your feed might sometimes inspire irritation, even for the made men of poker with better things to do. The irony being, bloviating Berkey can’t help himself from leaning in, but neither can cautious Charlie, in his always more modest way. Next, good take on the Molly’s Game movie and book.

September closes with something long in coming: a full-length monologue on the nature of the games and the nature of the players. It’s a little awkward as the thesis gets lost, and Charlie is embarrassed at the end, but such is the nature of a fully grown thought, one whose conclusions force the writer to stick his neck out beyond the acceptable; it’s something many humans will never know or even find sympathy for. Ideas are also incredibly cheap, which is paradoxical and hard for us to understand in a market economy: the audience will soon want more hand histories and will only tolerate so much freedom in the voice coming from the speakers. It’s all on point, though, given the subject: why are we really doing all this and so who are we? As Nancy Mitford comforted a distressed young wife, don’t worry, all the shopping and the shoes are supposed to distract you; in other words, it’s because you’re doing something for society, not actually for yourself, that you are driven to focus on trivialities, yet we aren’t doing much for anyone in poker while we shop for more shoes. Or put differently, what’s really happening is distressing to the creature, but the rewards are often there so that you might better carry out your communal duty without too much pain; it’s merely odd that we still must occasionally confront reality in poker when so many of us are here only to escape it. Charlie mentions the importance of vlogs, in spite of their uniformity and obligatory dullness, but can’t bring himself to underscore the obvious, that they are good but simply too much of a marketing toy to stand in for culture. Culture is not really about marketing, even in the heart of market capitalism: selling yourself is not happiness, communing with the ideas and people you love is. Self-improvement and self-improvement culture are therefore fine things taken in measure, because self-betterment is the minimum of what we can offer the world (self is the clue, if you needed one); the problem is, endless time at the table and self-improvement off it are aligned mostly in the promotion of sleepwalking. Cue zombie thumbnail.

As the year closes, Charlie soberly reports on a tough month, including an interesting hand where he uses small bets – linearity – to gain max EV but of course takes a tough loss. The negative results of our most marginal yet high EV decisions can feel like bad luck, however that is slightly imprecise. The negative result is only the mirror of the all the positive results of the same strategy. Was he running well before? No. The strategy is merely working, and we now pay the cost of our strategy during the loss. If you don’t realize this, then you merely are running well or running badly, and poker remains a dark forest. Confronting the vicissitudes of your play is a step in ultimate mastery, a mastery many players don’t even know exists: even the vocabulary of the winner is better than the loser’s. On a side note, it’s worth noting that while Charlie’s sophistication can make the bigger public games sound tough, the play of his opponents, and moreover, Charlie’s own ability to rely on relatively simple poker concepts over and over, demonstrates how little difference there is between stakes. It’s subtle but there for those with the ear.

In episode 80 Charlie returns to one of his subthemes, as creators should: tournaments. The equity lottery is mostly conquered the same way any lottery is conquered, with volume and taking good odds such as favorable structures and overlays. Charlie, like others in the shrinking community of live cash pros, just doesn’t have time for this luxury, however. What’s notable is not these old thoughts, but that all of us in poker must confront the tournament beast in his own way, given so much of poker liquidity is now shunted into its novelty format. If he had run better, we’d maybe be hearing a different story. It’s still worth noting some players really are better at the format, mainly revolving around certain inflection points that cash players might not emphasize enough. Charlie also goes over the myths of the ME, which I think are important to explode and which the community itself has begun to market police. Still, something bothers me about all this: a great poker player takes on all games and all forms. I suspect we will be back to this subject every year, like an allergic irritation that never heals. Perhaps the answer is much closer than we think: Charlie realizes he is providing entertainment to some backer. The tournament scene may simply be the big tent of our industry, and not taking part might simply and strangely be too stubborn an act in a field already devoted to selfishness.

I can only honestly describe my reaction to Charlie’s “Anatomy of a Downswing” episode as vinegary. For those of us who have been mushing in the back of the pack, smelling the run-good ass of the other dogs in front of us, the recounting of another’s downswing seems ever so slightly and wryly maudlin. In The Last Emperor, the once man-god, now in a reeducation camp, is taught to pee on the side of the toilet bowl so as to not wake his fellow prisoners: welcome to 2/5. What I have been doing at the table for years now, while carving out my desperate wins, is keeping and counting the ante chips as an emotional reward and a counter of good play; if I start to play poorly, I put them back in play as punishment, or even more causally, I simply don’t earn any because I am not winning the small pots that can keep a player alive. Charlie’s boredom, in other words, is what grates: it’s too much of a luxury when all some of the prisoners want is sun. Admittedly, there is strangeness given that I am running well at the moment after three years of struggle. I learned, without realizing it was not normal and rather pathetic, to fear every premium pair, wondering how I would lose or have to fold; that I win now is almost inexplicable, as inexplicable as the excitement others always got to feel when looking at AA. I could never understand why they thought they would win. When Third Man Walking started, Charlie was confident and in the midst of an eighteen month win streak: it feels like a movement around the sun of poker is complete. In fact, an entire world has turned, especially in L.A. poker. HCL rose and has now peaked, drawing Charlie and Billy and Christian and Marc and others into the orbit.  They believed and said different things; notice how they all changed. One is slowly leaving for the investment space but hanging onto the fruits of minor celebrity. One didn’t believe Charlie’s wins were even possible and liked to give bizarre, emotionally strained lectures on variance; one was so arrogant and berated fish so much on his stream even his coach had to stop him, but now lives on vibes, having been seduced by Billy’s vision. Meanwhile, foolish pros are foolishly debating variance on Twoplustwo with the people who basically invented strategy, all while Billy is struggling with the most anodyne comments on his choices. So goes the chaos of poker, which is not just its results, but the tumult of people and places that it causes. A true anatomy of cause and effect and the all-too unremarked-upon lives we lead in poker is rarely performed. The road through Nebraska is a good and dark image, and the episode will make good rubbernecking for winners and losers alike, but it is an incomplete one. The road is long and full of interesting things beyond winning – boredom is not really allowable nor ultimately tolerated by the pack.

Go deeper, though, and the looking glass changes. In Part II of the Anatomy, Charlie finds unexplored territory, finally becoming personal after all these years. Welcome to the club, here is your donut. He rambles and babbles about a hand that isn’t really that crazy (floating with backdoors to two different hands and an overcard getting what sounds like no worse than 3:1, I wonder what the goofs at CLP will say), joins us in worse behavior at the table, and most interestingly, tells us two dreams. He is the sheriff at the end of No Country, beaten and babbling to his wife without knowing why. The first is interesting but the second is more important to his downswing, as he seems to think the meaning is he can’t get back into the winning place. However, the obligation to bring the donuts, and failing to do so without being aided by directions is a more striking interpretation: what in his life has he been missing, dodging, not taking responsibility for? Perhaps he will find peace when he confronts this and grows. Only then can Marin return to St. Columbe and know the meaning of the music. Variance is often simply the reverse end of our strategy; if you always bet the river on a terrible runout in the middle of your value range, sometimes you get fucked instead of how you were rewarded last month. Until then, at least we get a pretty awesome and surrealist episode. Have some stars. (It’s worth noting that when the podcast ended, Spotify chose to start some ridiculous episode of Joe Stapleton, braying and ballyhooing his 300th episode of whatever. Joe is a poker commentator who can’t play poker, who has never had one original thought about the game and has certainly never earned his bread at the table. Only the true players can understand anything, as poor, rundown, or just briefly beaten on the felt. Poker remains a brotherhood at heart, no matter how much the boom and media make it An Entertainment.)

In another downswing installment, Charlie starts to heal, thanks greatly to one of the biggest themes of the grinder, that is to say, the necessity of importing meaning into one’s poker life rather than trying to live on winning. In fact, he goes so far as to suggest it’s at least remotely possible he could leave the game. It’s not the surprise it could appear to be: there are few true professionals, only a lot of searching young men on a wanderlust sabbatical from the world.

Rating: AQs

4. The Chip Race

Recently the GPI pulled some names out of a very small hat (probably borrowed from Ali Nejad) to decide the best poker podcast and this was it. Ok, but pretty high standards to live up to – until you think for two seconds and remember what a mess the GPI process is. My first experience in listening to the Chip Race is some bloke praising his sponsor, so it seems like hand fits glove so far. Lots of pleasant scene chatter and microstructure mulling unfolds; the tournament scene really does seem to require United Nations level of discourse, my research has revealed. Once we get past this stuff, Chip Race hosts David Lappin and Dara O’Kearney start to show their quality. The interview with Jungleman is definitely amusing, as the less than racy, cordial pair have no response to Dan’s blunt commentary on his notorious indoor sports video. Other interviews go smoothly as well: what’s happening is Lappin and O’Kearney have that subtle ability to avoid their own feet – not one that all poker interlocutors have.

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Basically, lots of decent listening for the tournament crowd, and plenty beyond as well, all at one of the most pleasant pacings among variety show-type poker podcasts. More heavily produced than most and is likely a treat for many listeners in a medium full of bare-bones efforts. [2021] The Chip Race goes on reliably and has to be one of the few long-term “important” pods in the industry. I don’t like their turn toward more hand analysis, which is mostly comically stern, rote PIO comparisons that have little to do with anything; these guys are more charming than smart.  [2021: note they also do a Youtube program called the Lock-in, not sure if this is podcast as well, or not] On catching up on the Eric Danis episode, the two trot out the usual circle jerk of favorites and don’t offer any criticism of Danis’ often inexplicably lazy process, which doesn’t even surface many major contributions to the poker scene while rewarding quotidian efforts and even click-bait articles by content quant hacks (to my chagrin I now see why – they saw the enemy and it was them, et cetera). I’d expect these guys to do better, having been through the GPI wringer already and being so familiar with, well, everyone.

[2/2022] They begin their 17th season, ensconced in the poker media firmament, with their parade of diverse (in the meaningful sense) guest choices. [3/2022] Thin interview with personality cipher Kevin Martin who apparently thinks the reason J. Koon wins is he finds good spots, wonders “what happened” to Phil Ivey, that PH’s marketing is underrated, and that he’s “in love” with Jen Tilly; the boys just skip over his mayonnaise toast enthusiasms. Still, that’s kind of the secret: Dara and David really have what it takes to manage a conversation, even with this blow-up doll. Few if any do this sort of thing better in our industry: all the lost, sloppy pods with no audience could really learn from their easy patter and professional-level editing. Excellence in what you do, whatever it is, is important. Opportunity to interview Ivonne Monteleagre draws a bunch of cliches – the issue of sex in poker is not handled well in general, given what is ostensibly at stake. This is the flip side of their skills as interviewers – they know how to easily make chit-chat content but to what end? More importantly, it makes me wonder if women in poker really is an issue at all. August brings some oft repeated strategy stuff, well-communicated. [8/2022] Continues with great guests. Kind of a waste of Gary B’s appearance, given his strategic genius. Instead, we get a snoozer of a hand from Lappin. I know it’s a tourney pod, but it’s still too much of a tourney pod. Weird recommendations on combos from Dara when talking to Shahade, herself aflutter over her J6 jam; all combos want some level of denial, the first question is how much and if they can afford their need – much like life itself. LOL donkaments, as a wise man once posted. [11/2022] With Only Friends tanking, I have to move them up just based on their overall excellence and more humble service to the community. [5/23] Bingo Hall organ music still flowing, chat still chatty, and still picking up all the big guests for a zippy chinwag: the “special relationship” is real, despite what Peter Hitchens says.

[2/24] Dreadful episode with Maria Konnikova where they affirm together that neutrality in journalism is unimportant if you’re right. Maria, a writer for some of the world’s best magazines, can’t imagine why Phil, legendary expert, would be interested in seeing a player’s face and hides behind some study, while the hosts merely nod along. Of course, actual ethics demand you present both sides especially when one side is questionable – that is how speech in a free society is protected. Dara at least acknowledges that poker media is a trade media. Now if he can just realize that the call is coming from inside the house, maybe he can do better than echo weak opinions and still keep his sponsorship. The Chip Race, in sum, is a high-quality podcast but one that lacks any interesting heft.

Rating: Two bangers

5. Only Friends

From a worthy documentary and the excellent “Vlogcast,” which was so good it easily overcame its name, to dangerous waters where sharks may be seen to jump, all in less than a year. Poker’s most paradoxical man continues to flagellate himself for content, except now he is approaching Peter Pan mode, if not regalia, as he tries to simultaneously recapture and resolve the magic of his beloved Friends while dodging the grey hairs of disappearing poker passion, a phenomenon so real even the vlog drone commander himself summons a few coherent paragraphs on it while panhandling for a little more media income. Can Berkey do it, again, create yet another hit and propel S4Y’s unusual production value-driven training model?

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Based on the first few episodes, the answer is a qualified yes. Berkey is, despite everything, clearly still at the top of his game thanks to his life regimen and a certain severity of ethos; the catch is only that he’s spending his time far more curiously, here in his most important years. The specific hosting challenge on his new show is in babysitting such a large cast of characters without shutting out the audience, as they are now listening in on a group chat instead of being spoken to articulately and at depth as before. Thus, Only Friends becomes, at its worst, someone else’s chitchat, with wildcat cousin Melissa aiming for yuks, Teen Wolf Landon RNGing some personality; yet more younger bros and cousins fill the room and provide our sitcom’s laugh track. Soto, who had absented himself from the family and aged backwards, remains likeable and sharp and has even lost most of his aloofness, which he previously had buried in histrionics on the vlogcast. In advertising the show, Berkey said they have the advantage of not representing a corporation or a business, somehow forgetting this is his business: we even get a browbeating email reminding us to attend the next poker camp on the day the show opens. Later he laughs at the MUGgers hustling for rake but meanwhile is pushing BetMGM right along with them. Well of course: follow the money and the concealed impatience- this is a significant time and financial and opportunity commitment, and something has to pay Matt for all of it: he has become the Man. On the other hand, Only Friends, at its best, can be the conversation poker needs and shares in, or more realistically, anyway, a mukbang for the disenfranchised and bewildered poker player who makes the S4Y base and much of the scene itself. We can see this happen in the Poker Bunny convo, which pleased and enlightened many. No matter what he steps in or on, Berkey is a leader and even carries off de rigeur sports trivial pursuit with authority. We’ll see. I cannot imagine the cast keeping to the schedule, and not all of them can hold a conversation, which means even more weight on the Berkey.

On cue later in the first week, a wading-pool discussion of marriage, children, and relationships demonstrates how poker and other decadent pursuits keep many in the man-boy zone, never mind encouraging the unfixable, ghost-creating heartbreak of the childless woman. For a real tour of the human soul, skip the pods for a few days and take a flyer on some infertility forums or dreary self-help groups. You’ll find yourself suddenly as sober as Berkey and about ten years older, if not wiser. Sticking to poker, the Evolution podcast is dense and interesting.  The pod on Poker Bunny shows him taking over and returning to the Vlogcast paradigm, while Soto has other things to do; as discussed above, it was a bit inevitable. [3/24] Funny to listen to the boys and girls have fainting spells over the Hawbaker story; lord save our crew from the kinds of relationships that exist in the world (never mind in what, LAS VEGAS), and never mind again their painful takes on how laws and speech work (this intensifies a week later on the Elon Musk episode). It is a little strange that poker is such a bubble and a babble of disillusioning, disappointing pathos while simultaneously not a particularly worldly or enriching experience; I wonder sometimes if I am really getting anything out of it. The open secret, one which Berkey has hammered at for some time when calling for us to take charge of our industry’s future, is that poker players are the customers of their industry, not its creators; consider cringey consumer language like “poker journey” forming our currency, or our susceptibility to, even enthusiasm for, token scams which defraud “heroes” we supposedly respect of control of their image. #Postivity or else. What he consistently misses is the underlying culture’s deep, unguidable malfeasance. Still, Uncle Berk wipes some tears and gets asked for more scary stories, perhaps each Thursday – not a bad idea. Headed to the top ten at this pace; the residue of silliness is not disqualifying, rather it’s in part what makes such stuff real: this is us, and this is relevant.  When the next episode focuses on strategy, the team touches home base again.

On the cheating scandals, Berkey reaches out to understanding motivations, saying it’s not about money but power. See, there’s a real discussion to be had. A new episode without him starts out so aimlessly I almost turn it off; the star remains necessary, it seems. They find coherence in reviewing some Pokergo variance jerk-off, when really, anyone who loves poker should be tuning out all the broadcasts associated with high stakes cheat culture, which has feasted on this fanboy, consumer hunger for years. If you really want to ensure integrity in the game, you 1) hold the entire upper market structure accountable by withdrawing support of all kinds, 2) play and watch local, which is always more transparent, and thus 3) make the bigger/national/global industry re-earn our interest. Instead, the crew just yuks it up while fingering a few serious notes, immune from having to think about anything too seriously as long as industry liquidity and crypto are buoyant. (Landon, in fact, has just come from the Pokergo tourney that featured multiple generations of known scammers.  Their two houseboy commentary eunuchs even spend time lionizing sportscard manchild and multi-accounting all-star Bleznick, yes on the very day of all the cheating allegations.) When Only Friends get to the Hustler hand strategy, the episode really comes together and the energy is intense, even though Soto, usually a very savvy observer and a hidden intelligence behind the persona, is wrong about the Garrett situation – so close, though.

Meanwhile, the crew is developing, and the Bryn episode is a watershed. Soto confesses to having been ghosted and sounds mortified; this is genuine manning-up and not his usual chat-friendly, peepsicles persona that claimed he would cheat on a woman sooner than a poker player just an hour earlier. Melissa continues to find a stronger, less silly voice. Landon emerges from his shyness as eccentric, clear-headed, and youthfully limited: he keeps confusing the model with the theory. Andre, however, is revealed more and more as unbearable, making obviously poor observations while delivering the buzzwords; Berkey doesn’t even bother to respond to him in “take that as a comment” fashion at several points. Andre’s equivocations over Soto’s minor transgressions actually make them sound worse. (Andre is much stronger on other shows later.) He probably mostly serves to feed Berkey’s ravenous appetite for business and physique ideation. Berkey shines as the cheating scandals unfold; he is a seminal voice of contemporary poker; I don’t think we really have better. However, the month closes with the crew enthralled by California celebrity culture ambassador Adam22, a sort of dullard influencer with a nose for silicone and easy revenue streams; out with a whimper.

[5/2022] Sleepover dating talk episode is up and down; it would be savvy of them to recognize the connection between the poker business practices they tut-tut over and the sexual ones they giggle over; save those sexts. I hold my breath for the Roe discussion but it was far better than it could have been: no one called the ruling a law, good start, although the idea that the U.S. constitution is subsequent to a poll is, well, special, as well as unfortunately endemic.  (In fact, this part of the show demonstrates, for the nth iteration, a real problem with the abortion and law debate: the actors involved rarely understand their own country or even why it is important to do so. To a large degree, everyone could have what they want, such is the genius of the federal system, but people mainly prefer to shout down disagreement rather than use the apparatus given to us to find rational compromises or even solutions; note the connection to the slightly less vitriolic but extremely au courant need to reargue the already solved problem of speech every generation, every year, every issue.) Next episode on the Kenney/Zemani texts really shows the immense value of Berkey as poker spokesman, no one compares and no complaints I make matter compared to his knowledge and ability to communicate it – he is the man. He heroically attempts to take on the near impossible issue of women in poker with popular wit Jamie K., but is a bit hidebound by the trap of abused words such as misogyny and humane as well as cultural mores, which can’t or won’t be discussed honestly without extreme effort: the contradictions presented are unconquerable without addressing the mote in thine eye. Both Jamie and Melissa add a lot of value on this one, very impressive overall. Moving on, we’re back to Melissa and her defecation fascination, nicely tied to crypto and the other question and proving Jamie K’s idea that marketing to women is often just marketing to more men. Crypto episodes are weak: it’s not a coincidence that poker players mistake speculation for investment; the same people who buy tournament packages should not be managing your finances. Tuning in for the latest cheating in Texas they follow with embarrassingly misinformed political talk. Next, the leaderless crew is stymied and confused by a simple image and sternly recommend a series of allowable cliches to replace it. One can only hope they are trolling their flunkies. Landon now emerging, against odds, as the second most interesting person on Only Friends.  Despite Berkey’s consistently strong contribution and some important, lightning-quick reactions to challenging issues, this podcast is a good reminder: find your own friends or you have to listen to somebody else’s. Now that’s a moral.

[6/2022] Another “Cheating Episode” is announced and I actually think it’s going to be about one of their private lives, that’s how much they chitter about themselves. Still, I’ve commented enough for a while. The complaints are fun to have, because engaging with ideas and people is important. This is basically a good to great show: congrats. As the WSOP runs, the show emerges as the most important one, replacing other WSOP covering pods like PokerNews. Berkey’s watercooler vision has come to fruition. The running joke that some conglomerate will buy S4Y is amusing, but also kind of rueful when you match it up to Berkey’s obsession with some visionary, a new Carey Katz, turning poker into a successful and greater industry: these are both non-starters but I don’t think they realize what the joke actually is, for all the laughs. It no longer matters, though, as the pod has become a community mainstay: Berkey has won again. They belabor the Hustler scandal excitedly but are saved by Berkey’s intelligence. [11/2022] Really dragging of late, hard to watch. As the year closes out, the team’s increasing comfort with themselves does start to detract from coverage; sports, lame jokes, and old stories require a lot of patience (read: weed) or fast-forwarding. It’s all so predictable, I suppose. Poker is not enough, but nor is this curiously slavish devotion to the sports industrial complex.

As Berkey starts through the latest round of cheating allegations, I have to conclude his mind is elsewhere, and that leaves us with way too much Tortoise and Conrad yuks. Landon eats eggshells now, and we need to discuss it. (Worse, listening to a twenty-three-year-old regurgitate cliches on business and life is downright unbearable: this is often not a podcast for adults.) The tedious and inexplicably overpraised Henry Kilbane joins in and weighs down the conversation with his standard banalisms. Next, we learn carnival barkers Brent Hanks and Jeff Platt are in. It’s unique and compelling voices that make for great content, but instead the pod continues to take on dead weight. Landon and Lamana have become unbearable, with their stupid catch phrases and uninformed micro-opinions; it would be hard to sound lamer than when Landon talks about someone “cooking.” Once the rising star of the pod, he clearly needs to get off the air and find a life outside poker.

Checking back in, Berkey goes back to basics and runs an excellent panel on MDA with stellar guests – echoes of the Vlogcast, once so sharp and still timely. Quickly, however, we’re back to slap-happy sports takes and ad hoc dickery. Lamana is blessedly away but they video him in, ffs. Melissa provides some relief, as she is no try hard. Yet, for all the problems, Only Friends still belong near the top, demonstrating what a big need they fill with constant, timely commentary, a true poker watercooler, and how they will inevitably be awarded by the GPI and the poker world, which is so voracious for chatter. Poker needs Berkey, and so he has won again.

[11/23] New graphics and a new segment, In the Muck, in which Berkey, maybe for the first time, effectively teaches poker to his mostly hopeless crew. He really does give some good info. On the other hand, the price is listening to Brian Lamana and Guapo on poker, which is an excruciating, stab-yourself-in-the-ears-to-make-it-stop experience. The 99 hand in January is just so amazingly bad all while the chorus says “I love it, I love it.” Then Berkey and Landon straighten them out. Compelling content, I suppose. Rating: AQo

6. Winning the Game of Life

New in March 2022, Dan “Jungleman” Cates kicks off yet another vanity pod, this time with a badly needed interview of Phil Hellmuth, who is rarely heard from and clearly needs some media time. In one long sentence, Phil explains that his ego is not out of line while informing us about the price of the house he is staying in, name dropping some POS celeb I’m supposed to be impressed by, and how many final tables he reached that week, by the way. Would I be out of line in telling these two to just **** off? Probably. On the other hand, the intro is so amazingly goofy, maybe this is really a sweet-ass troll. Good for you, Dan.

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The second guest on WGL is the earnest but always tedious Jeff Gross. Soccer was his passion. Being around winners helps make you a winner. Imagine Twitch was earlier, things would have been different. Whoa. Next, the Fedor episode is a big improvement.  Early on, Dan stumbles into a great topic, that someone has to lose in the non-cooperative game of poker, but briefly dazed by his own observation, he leads us back to the “everyone winning” theme of the pod: irony wins, anyway. It’s rough at first as Fedor clearly wants to dump pablum on the audience, telling us he loved poker because it challenged him and gave him people to talk to; he recommends be yourself, not what someone else wants you to be. Didn’t you retire? Then, Dan’s natural contrariness starts to create interest. He questions Fedor’s bromides and forces his guest to offer some meaningful thoughts. They parry over honesty and debts. Fedor closes strong, however, striking back with some luxury belief bombs, and part one ends comically. In part two, more self-delusion and praise on “impact.” Fedor’s voice trails off in one spot as he briefly runs out of vagueness to peddle. Regrouping admirably, Fedor rediscovers his natural voice and expresses what is working and really is helping him win the game of life: doing, and not getting lost in thought. Then, back to the midwit opining: he tells us pharmaceutical companies don’t have the goal of helping general health, as if it is some sort of revelation that a person’s goal is not a product they can buy. Do the thing. Don’t train, jump high, Fedor says as he unwinds his brain. Funny stuff; I could imagine this one becoming my favorite if Dan fully manifests himself and doesn’t just let these sun-runners yawn all over us. Next, good news: Dan brings his best game to the Phil G. episode. However, his rambling yielding less fruit than he’d hoped, near the climax and sensing his own dithering, Dan has to remind himself of the podcast’s stated premise, because it was never really the point to begin with. What is? Dan being Dan of course.

New WGL episode with Dan Smith is boring and even weirder than usual. Jungleman brings up being a personal assistant as a life path, while Dan complains about some of his PAs; it’s just all so random, as they say. “The charity business” Dan pontificates upon, not even thinking to interrogate the give-away phrase. “High Quality People” gets shuffled about unironically: love it. The story, it turns out, of the Dans is having too much money and no real purpose, but giving away money helps ease the existential discomfort. Purpose, of course, goes beyond the mere allocation of resources and is a massive theme for poker players who are essentially free agent ants, lost without their queen but still great at grabbing stuff. Their short-sighted EV appetite exposes their flank to purposelessness; Jungleman seems to be confronting this in his Krishna readings. Good for him.

At first I skip over an episode where some x-classer urges people to find out why they are here; the luxury of easy money too early debases many. While on the grift and womanizing and drugging and basically shitting on life, while South America was on fire and needed his talents, things didn’t have meaning, somehow; now it does, living in some beautiful village in Guatemala with his wife, somehow, some way. What a lesson for his fellow trust funders, who have suffered so much. Humorously, this clown is re-regrifted by one of his women, but he bounces right back thanks to some viral video, originally targeting yet another sponsored hipster, valorizing his stupidity; all this is why Being There is one of the seminal art works, a kind of Vanity Fair for our age. It only gets better as he now teaches yoga and “metaphysics,” which he calls “basically magic”: I am going to die of laughter describing this happy-go-lucky fool. Mazzi even manages to dodge whatever was awaiting him in Egypt; there are plenty of “gurus” pining for such “students” of “astral travel” and “lucid dreaming.” Covid turns out to be the greatest gift of his life, as it keeps him from his regimen of world travelling and starting failed businesses; one can only wonder how many lives had to be upended so that this guy could enjoy meditating by the pool in paradise. What’s amusing is all this is exactly the kind of crap Dan is supposed to be in the mood for, but he can’t hide that he’s a little put out, having bitten off more than he chew: I feel your pain, Dan, but will you learn the lesson? Krisha Hare, Hare Hare.

On the latest, more comedy as Dan points out that “Yoh Viral” Johan is French but also influential and gets needled back by his guest. The unintentional amusement never ends on this pod, including the new digs, which mirror the old S4Y set up, give WGL a sort of European chat show vibe, missing only the hired live audience to cheer and boo the cliches – now that would be fun and appropriately showmanesque for wrestling fan Dan. “I don’t call the people I love,” Viral explains, telling us he makes videos in part to connect with them – the pathology of this statement nicely captures the social media/influencer scene. More “journey” bavardage: the most interesting stories are never in advertisements, by definition, as authenticity requires a certain humility. “Influencers are mostly the same [person]” YV notes, with key insight and honesty, and compliments Dan on being different. YV also sees the bigger picture on growing the game, catching Dan bizarrely off guard – what is in Dan’s head is hard to predict. Johan closes with a bit of fun with Dan’s general bewilderment, a good show overall. Moving this one up if only because Dan is so unusual and important to poker, but in fact, his interviews and pokerfaceless reactions to his guests make the pod great on their own. [8/2022] Martin J. episode is almost comically stiff and banal (“Nutrition is a passion of mine,” he says, dispassionately) until Jungle takes on measuring the sorts of giving Jacobson is involved in; Dan’s passions are always amusing. Koon episode is light and pleasant. Funny moment when Dan, who has destroyed the opposition and taken their bankrolls, talks about how great and rich life is at the high stakes: winning. “Poker’s a pretty good living if you can figure out how to be really good at it.” LOL, as they say.

September brings us Tommy Angelo, the original mentalist and dubious poker coach who is a good match for Jungle’s sophomoric spirituality quest. Of course you can choose to avoid certain kinds of suffering: being an airhead is clearly the one advised here (and as Tommy has hinted elsewhere, the green happy stuff helps). Pure babble, and this is the place for it, perhaps unexpectedly. It’s amusing to hear these happy goofballs burble about enlightenment (“total or not”) and detachment from appetites: yeah, that’s called death, bro – but let’s not harsh the mellow. In one hilarious segment, Jungle preaches his version of the prosperity gospel. Winning! Catching up, the Nate Silver episode is very strong, although even these two high IQ people just can’t handle their political biases and end up in their own cul-de-sacs: very Jungleman. Petrangelo episode is quiet and focused on poker. This podcast is easily the best of poker chat culture because the Jungle is increasing himself and that is where it’s at. Ausmus episode is low key and satisfying, although Dan has amusingly forgotten his own dips into poker scandal and bad behaviors. Nice sedate hour with Jason Mo, the HU expert turned cryptonaire. More crypto griftography with Bryan Pellegrino, who you clearly should not trust further than the width of a data packet; amusing to hear them talk about building “healthy communities” while building on the principle of “trustlessness.” Creepy words like “orthogonal” are added to the usual “impact” business vocab diarrhea – keep your palm on your wallet.

[9/23] Interesting pairing of Callmelija and Melanie Weisner, two successful poker players. Melanie clearly has a full personality and is able to explain to Dan and the audience all kinds of truths, while Adriana barely registers as present. Interesting closing as Melanie wonders if Dan thinks the Cobra Effect applies to online dating. Dan spills the beans when he says “most American men have no chance [here],” one of the contemporary laments about the culture we have created. She is on the right track: humans are not products on the market and treating them as such has devalued not men and their chances but the availability of love itself. The dating market turns people into puzzle pieces, yet every utilitarian relationship is the closure of idealism, romance, and faithfulness. It’s a lot for Dan to handle, but the good news is wise Melanie offers to help him. He doesn’t need help, at heart, but who knows what self-contortions he and society have wrought. Most medicalizations of personality – calling your child neurodivergent, that she has ADHD, etc. – are obviously false, and no interview with Dan suggests this more, as, yes, he is overwhelmed by Melanie’s sagacity and realism to an extent, but then wrestles with the issues and the dynamic as normally as any human who ever lived. I wonder if he could break down this personal fourth wall, or if these labels and faux diagnoses really are too much of a crutch of these generations. Continues to be one of the very best pods in poker. Rating: A10s

7. Poker in Your Ears

Joe Stapleton is an acquired taste for some, but the powers of our small pond that be have forced all of us to acquire it or skip a lot of video coverage. In some senses Joe has found a better, more suitable and still more local pond in the form of this podcast, as it’s opt-in. In fact, when Joe forgets he has to act like Joe Stapleton, he offers some amusing thoughts and shows a worthy attention to detail, exemplified in the “Bad Poker Movies” episode. This is a good show, maybe the best and most natural forum for our aspiring poker comedian.

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Overall, the strength of this podcast are its harmless atmosphere, energy and guest handling. Joe, unlike in his day job, allows them to speak at length, showing some chops we didn’t know he had. Despite some reliance on the podcast carousel usual suspects, Joe and James occasionally pull significantly interesting ones, so picking your episode then skipping the filler at the beginning is a good way to approach PIYE. Of late, Joe either has developed a perpetual cold or is moving into a sort of Jimmy Durante phase: could be an improvement, I’m not sure. James Hartigan magnifies the presence of Stapleton and aids nimbly in the interviews. He’s such a good straight man, with so little discernible personality, I would not entirely be surprised if he lived a second life as an MI5 agent. No one can hold back Joe from Joe in the end, however: at least one show ends with a novelty quiz so inane the guest can be heard squirming to get away. (Hartigan, Stockholmed long ago, cannot help Joe’s victim.) So, if you need more light conversation and pure groanage in your life, modest opinions stated as if they are revelatory, and just love big poker personalities being put to easy questions, here’s the natural pod for you. [1/2022/ Still running, and nominated for the GPI. [2/2022] PIY wins the 2021 GPI for best podcast, and while I’ve been skipping it for obvious reasons, time to try again. One thing I didn’t pay attention to the first time around is that it really is a Poker Stars creature. The Casino Royale episode is upbeat, droll, and reveals some effort; I suppose this might have to be a top ten podcast to celebrate their longevity and overall high quality.

[3/2022] Brokos is on, with the spin of improving Joe’s game. Stapes whines about running bad, brags about bluffing and generally unmasks his real bewilderment at even the most basic poker concepts, all while Andrew stays patient and reminds the patient to breathe. Good stuff, energetic and fun. [11/2022] I catch an episode where Maria Ho stakes Joe and they review his hands. It’s no big deal, but he can barely play. It’s just amazing how much info they feed him so that he can pretend to do commentary. Funny or die, I guess. As the year closes, more strategy with Joe is promised. It’s a great and funny new subplot for a solid podcast, if not for Maria’s roll. [5/23] Joe always has a good eye (and ear) for movies, nice take on Air. Kind of a poker-peripheral, jibber-jabber junket, this pod. Rating: Two puns.

8. The Mechanics of Poker

Advertising vehicle for Poker Ambition, a training site by and maybe for Euros. New in 2022. “Poker journey” talk, so we can only hope these guys bring something new to the “climbing the stakes” hagiography scene. I check out the Goosecore episode, as he’s always worth listening to, and they do let him talk, which is a good first step. Lots of bio, not much mechanics so far. (However, it turns out they mean something else by “mechanics.”) Extremely long episodes for the hardcore online grinder with lots of time on his hands.

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Some themes are too predictable and are a bit of a waste of time: yes, it turns out tremendous volume and commitment to improving at a thing somehow works. Odd and yes, almost mechanical. At other times, the hosts explore actual concepts and touch on ideas that might benefit serious players. Sound output is too low. [August 2022] Three-hour podcasts better have some interesting questions and answers; some episodes are a real struggle for the hosts and the listener. Fortunately, the MOP crew uses an index, at least for their YouTube vids; I don’t see any on Spotify. Much like Joey’s shows, we’re carried in some spots very thinly and many people just can’t possibly have time for so much filler. Of course, having an actual poker genius on the show like Uri Peleg on makes up for a lot.  The hosts rise to the occasion in a podcast full of insights by letting Uri talk – a strength for Rene and Adam. This one skill alone can make a podcast.

So it’s possible this is secretly one of the best interview podcasts on the high-level poker scene ever, and the names involved suggest it, but few will be awake to realize it, and this is probably reflected in the small listenership – small even for poker standards. They have competitors for sure. Thinking Poker does more strategy, just as Runchuks did before disappearing; MOP is one step removed from the tables. Henry Kilbane tries for the same young grinder demographic, but he suffers from similar defects while producing even less content.  Of course, burying the secrets to success is smart, in a way, but I doubt it is what they are aiming for by dragging out the conversation for half a productive day. Bumptious and confident Rene in his stream videos actually thanks his opponents after they lose a hand to him, one of the most odious behaviors in poker; it’s hard to just like this type purely as host or person; he’s a happy bro, perhaps, and looks like he eats well, works out, recycles, doesn’t worry about much, and his family loves him, but he clearly struggles to put himself in his opponents’ or his audiences’ shoes. Munez episode is full of interesting high stakes gossip and general recommendations but is so slow it is nearly unlistenable; bear in mind we’re hearing from one of the world’s top competitors. He “analyzed” Stefan’s game “five times” – somehow the hosts don’t even ask what this means. Did he look at a hand? Every hand? What? Sim vs datasets? No answer. Maybe I didn’t even listen closely enough – hours and hours of mostly light content makes for a low concentration level. So, lots of potential, remains: these guys know poker and have the access to make it happen. [11/2022] Trying to get through the latest is just impossible. I’d like to move this one up to the Top Ten, but the approach is just brutal. [1/23] Strong finish to Umadbro episode after a mere eighty minutes of poorly done biography. JFC. [7/2023] So many important names, and a little more method to the madness of late.

5/24 Latest podcast with “european” is a standout. A lot of mental game stuff in this pod but it’s a little deeper than that, more about winning as a mindset, a bro thing, a club to aspire to. Adam and Rene, made up as if on a date, are here to help you shine.

Rating: 99 sheep, 98…

9. Chasing Poker Greatness

A rare podcast that really belongs in both strategy and interview sections. Google’s dismissive take on relevance, which yields a select number of the active poker podcasts and a significant number of dead ones, caused me at first to miss Brad Wilson’s “Chasing Poker Greatness” series. Apparently with Run it Once and Cardrunners video making experience, Brad has the experience to take on strategy talk as well as the big picture questions. That’s real expertise and this pod looks sharp on paper.

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Even more good news: Brad focuses on a variety of successful poker players, not just elephants like Berkey and Maurice Hawkins, but some lesser-known names as well. The [2020] intro is goofy and tiresome, and hints at some issues to come. Podcasters seem to think they need to go over the biography of players who everyone already knows about, and certainly the Berkey episode is essentially a rerun.  Brad never ran into a cliche he didn’t like, in one sentence promising that Maurice pulls no punches, shoots from the hip, and that what you see is what will get from Goldfingers. (Of course this means what you’ll get from this person is anything but.) Nevertheless, Brad is upbeat and professional, and should give those lesser-knowns coverage.

As the podcast develops a strong history, the parallel concern is the usual retreads, including even Joe Stapleton, who is only chasing greatness in attention. This perhaps natural pandering to the same voices is good publicity for poker podcasts short-term, but in the end adds less to the conversation than one might imagine. The Nick Howard episode is excellent, but that’s because of Nick Howard, who could philosophize over which shoe is tied first.  Nevertheless, I would be hopeful for this hard-working and clear-headed host, who is in the midst of churning out these long-form interviews at a heroic rate. [9/20] Brad has hit podcasting big time, with 2+2 promotion and a successful poker book bracket challenge gathering attention. He’s also fully integrated NH into the pod. [2/2021] This has become one of the biggest pods, thanks to Brad’s relentlessness. Lots of awful “greatness” groans but he’s a success bomb now. It’s also worth noting [7/21] that he finally abandoned the awful intro.  The pod suddenly sounds very professional, other than that poorly aging “tireless ambassadors of the game” line, which is pure fanboy illiteracy in a predatory industry: no one is working on your behalf, citoyen, there’s only knowing what is under the rock or not. (Why is the felt “green,” clearly Brad hasn’t been out to play in a while.) Strategy content continues to improve, and “Tactical Tuesdays” is an interesting sub-listen.

[3/2022] Some speculation on somewhat misnamed Philosophical Fridays now; philosophy would be getting to the bottom of all those prescriptions and opinions, but really, this is better stuff than most client-call pods. Bringing on Berkey for a chat on entertainment in is an instant upgrade. He points out the problem of the anonymity of the high-stakes scene, but again, as Joan Rivers summarized, these people have no last names, and that is the hard and timeless truth told by the greater truthteller. (in other words, it isn’t just that anonymity is a problem, it is a condition.) Brad hits the nail on the head: poker can’t simultaneously be a mind game and a rodeo. Stop trying to market the unmarketable when it’s the mystery itself that is the appeal. DGAF follows with some reflections on where he’s at, but it’s a bit of a let-down as Brad isn’t really up to challenging Billy at key points, including the absurd, self-congratulating idea that other people “hate young women” – it’s amusing we have the brass to even let these words escape our lips, such is the compulsory power of the zeitgeist. The actual reason people rag on her and similar is interesting – now that would be a philosophical Friday worth the name. Nevertheless, when they move to poker strategy, Brad is back in his saddle. Next, there are no coincidences: In potential breakthrough conversation with Paulina Loeliger aka the poker bunny, Brad at first sounds as awkward and ill-matched as an interlocuter as you’d expect, but curiously, by throwing airballs and parental soothing at all the important targets, he allows Paulina to stumble through the interview authentically. A bewildered father-daughter dynamic develops and seems to suit both of them in its familial discomfort. However, Brad the dad can’t help her with the hospital protocol, which was actually normal and purposeful, or really, address any of her misconceptions. This leaves the conversation trapped in her involutions. Interrogating what the word “optimal” means to her was the way in – she invokes it religiously and signals an escape – but somehow it goes over the ears of our lead wolf. The Dara thing goes uninterrogated and even bolstered; Dad wants to be supportive. Clearly this is not his jam: the encounter with live, broken humanity shakes our suburban hero, but in fact Brad is good on his feet, and realizes he needs to soothe her in order to calm himself. As the show closes, his second half strategy works until a final moment of awful, shattering irony. Brad asks her his canned question about a book to share (itself a comical sub-moment of incompetence, what exactly would you expect from this poor soul in the midst of its struggle? “Oh yeah, I’m big on Dale Carnegie and Taleb.”). Somehow she responds, almost miraculously, summoning The Kite Runner. Paulina, self-alienated, can’t quite remember what it is about or why she liked it; meanwhile, Brad, who basically knows nothing, hasn’t a clue what it’s about, either. This is brutal to tears: in The Kite Runner, a vulnerable, lower-class boy is sexually abused, and the main character abandons him. Guilt and pain and consequences and remaking a future- it’s the sharp, sad echo of Paulina’s story.

Potentially important cheating episode; in part important because poker influencers like Brad need to speak out. Brad makes a nice observation of the arms race being its own incentive, and essentially creating a necessity to cheat. Unfortunately, Duncan can’t follow it up, and moves on to another idea. They repeat this process, not having a dialogue while still talking at each other: the mind starts to wander. “Philosophy” is kind of a bad word for the field in general, oddly; it’s really inquiry that gets to the point; loving wisdom isn’t enough. That’s relevant because, while these two like talking and want to claim credit for an in-depth conversation as part of selling poker ed, they spend the first thirty minutes not getting to the bottom of anything..  Then, at a key point, Duncan settles on one of the only real answers to the situation. It’s extreme but shows that he grasps the issue. It almost again goes uninterrogated by Brad, but this time Duncan forces him to confront the idea by pointing out a consequence. Brad needs to slow down and listen. It’s not just him: all podcasters need an outline or an agenda to organize and develop ideas; this episode was a hurried chaos and obscured the best qualities of the two: Brad’s pragmatic simplicity and Duncan’s abstractions. [7/2022] Promising influencers episode should be interesting, as Brad is one, and he starts out by correctly recognizing that they are “human.” The episode does get better as they reluctantly name their actual target, Doug Polk, who is, indeed, human, all too human. More importantly, so are his greedy “victims,” although the “philosophical” duo struggle to say the quiet part out loud: all the interesting tech explanations and codewords help ease their burden. (Sorry, guys, good and evil are as old as humanity, no need to embarrass yourselves.) As for the subject matter, Brad professes to be split on “adding value,” in creepy Jlil wording, and “not hurting” people, whereas Duncan is a realist and a free marketeer armed with some Talebisms. Brad has helped many win and could be more vigorous in his self-belief; something is holding him back – now that would be worthy listening, but he is not really much of a delver. When he brings up the intention of the influencers, he hits almost on the point: of course businesses “add value,” the question is always how and how much. Duncan, in almost amusing marginal value nihilism, happily does not care: he is the principled one and scrubs down Brad’s hesitations. The other shoe, of course, is that principles are harsh. I’m glad Duncan finally gets into Ferguson and politics, rescuing the show from its own lack of rigor. It’s hard for me to love this podcast as it consistently overpromises and underdelivers, but it also tries hard; maybe that is what chasing greatness really means. Congrats to Brad. [11/2022] Brad realizes libraries still exist. Hosts giggle through an episode with a bomb pot, utterly lost on unfamiliar terrain. Today’s data-driven player is not a man for the trenches.

11/2023 I get a chance to catch up with some strategy episodes and they are very good. Things have changed a little: Brad is more assertive and confident, correcting his students without hesitation. Rating: 77 88

10. The PokerGo Podcast

[12/2023] The Poker Central team of Remko, Donnie, and Brent changed at some point to the Pokergo Podcast with Donnie and Tim, and now are committed “to being the number one podcast” according to their latest, a year-end review and prediction episode. Stated aim is covering all poker news including goings on at Pokergo, which obviously was strengthened this Fall by the popular “Game of Gold.” The pod had a near daily presence during the WSOP: with The Fives podcast gone and the Bernard Lee Show slowing after 16 seasons, they will likely get their wish to be number one, at least as far as serious tournament coverage goes. [5/24] Solid coverage continues. Moving this one up as the tournaments need coverage and who else is there?

Contenders

11. vacant

12. The Poker Guys

This is lighthearted, yet complete commentary by two jovial tournament dorks who seem to simply love poker and their own camaraderie just as much. Incredible volume of content and fun.

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The “Choochoohuahuas” certainly love to yap: Grant and Jonathan have created an astonishing body of content, so much you have to apparently buy their older poker podcasts on disk: the internet ran out of room for all that yak. The Guys do have an unfortunate weakness (and maybe all of us do) for judging play they may not understand; they seem to be aware of it, though. The main thing is, G. and J., even if you disagree with them, go through their own logic far, far more completely than almost any other poker strategy show, while simultaneously doing it in a fun, clear way. Neither double down on their opinions and take natural joy in both teaching the game while poking fun at each other. The bottom line is anyone who enjoys thorough if standard mid-level analysis is going to find voluminous pod fod here. [9/2023] They open a second podcast – as just one won’t contain the chatter. Rating: Dash Money

13. DAT Poker Podcast

Never mind the pretenders, the real part deux of 2+2 is this obvious, still corny spin-off, with Host Adam, Dropsman Roscoe and Sidekick Terrence reemerged intact.

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The real change is the addition of the one and only Daniel Negreanu as star, expert, and sponsor.  Daniel, intermittently on the show, is animated and offers reasonable opinions; his common sense, upbeat approach is often accurate, rakegate and whatever baggage he brings aside. (Daniel takes a lot of unnecessary grief; he can barely urinate without some worry-wart wondering if it’s good for poker or not.)  The hawking of product isn’t overdone. If you like these guys enough to care about their opinions on various non-questions and miss the 2+2 podcast’s breezy coverage of the scene, this is easily your show. [1/2022] Nominated for the new GPIs, but it’s not for me: chacun a son gout, eh? [4/2022] Lame disclaimer greets us, then Terrence with the witless observation of his co-host being white. Now, this is an ostensibly quality show because of all the experience and knowledge and legacy, but like a fading television series, the character writing has dropped off substantially. DN doesn’t really call spots “bougie”; his easy insincerity has always been the flip side of his friendliness. Terrence, not much of an observer usually, almost reaches a point in a soliloquy on high stakes community behaviors, but no one helps him finish his thought. As they wind up some energy the show gets a lot better. Daniel really comes through with a strong observation about social pressure and the real limits of “community” enforcement; it’s great to hear someone cut through the bullshit. Poker news and discussion shows are necessary, I’m glad they are here for those who like them; chacun a son gout encore. [7/2022] Audio is a bit off in latest. WSOP coverage but just too behind Only Friends to really matter: you can’t listen to them all. [5/23] Still going strong, although I personally just can’t listen to these guys. Rating: K9s

14. Poker Stories

I found this one late, as it is mis-categorized not among poker podcasts but as a “poker video” on the confusing Cardplayer magazine website in one spot, and as a subcategory of videos on the menu bar. Not surprising, as the homepage is designed with all the simplicity of an airplane’s control panels. The mislabeling is apparently endemic; this pod is another standard interview show. It doesn’t say who the host is and you have to go to iTunes to find a release date. Cardplayer is the self-proclaimed “poker authority” and “industry-publication.” The funny thing, that may be perfectly true, but if our industry can’t even reach bone-basic standards, not sure what the brag is worth. This stuff isn’t without consequence, because there is lots of good content here that you might not otherwise find. Anyway, the host turns out to be the very competent and low-key Julio Rodriguez. Basically, you’ll find many of the names you are looking for and a few surprises, too. [7/2022] New sponsor Jlil greets the listener. Despite being mostly bio that is often repeated, this podcast is a top ten contender if only for its continuity and clear focus. [12/2022] I want to be impressed, as Julio is detailed and friendly, but the reality is that most of these guys just aren’t that interesting and need to be focused on what is important. Rating: 109s

15. Poker Fraud Alert – Druff and Friends

If there is any one true voice of the poker forum poster, it surfaces here, in a seemingly endless trail of episodes (bottomless in themselves) hosted by the nasally Todd “Dan Druff” Witteles, best known for getting yelled at by Abe Limon and Mason Malmuth. A strange, mission-focused name for a podcast, really, and worth being concerned about. In any case, the underbelly of poker served up by the tortuous and tortured Dan Druff, who has morphed over time into a sort of poker 3 AM radio host who has the empty night to fill, a night that is full of unknown Deep Ones, those players you don’t personally know but are out there, watching for your latest screw up, or I guess, fraud.

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This podcast has a lot of value for the true believer in poker – so much content! “Real cash money” he promises in the latest episode, apparently through some dusty freeroll on some site somewhere, in order to celebrate his return to health. This is not trivial: August 15, the date of this pod, is a key one for Todd, as he announces his escape from depression, more specifically, the horrifying state known as Anhedonia (and not Colson Whitehead’s lazy conceit). Todd needed to retrain his focus on greater meaning to escape the darkness of whatever web he had spun for himself; we all at some point must share Todd’s moment in order to better confront the spending down of one’s life, which dims like a preset-theater light while the day continues to shine outside. Reorientation can be difficult, but our basic human mythology exists for ornery radio hosts, too; one can be glad and reassured by Todd’s escape.

As for the pod itself, Todd promises to “break the mold of boredom” but I’m not sure he knows what that means, as he often delivers on his threat all too well. If you can stay in touch with this one, you’re braver, tougher, or more committed to the game than I, and I think you will find value for it: he and his set of followers are both trouble and always looking for trouble. Whatever your opinion, Todd certainly brings the talk: set aside a year to catch up on what must be a kind of populists’ cultural history of poker. [12/2021] Reading through some forum posts, which is admittedly not the podcast, Todd seems have some very smart opinions, but I have not been able to listen much. [4/2022] Tenth anniversary show. Great commitment by Todd, who sounds good and who has conquered his own creation. A remarkable running commentary on poker, this podcast. As 2023 plays out, some distraction over Todd’s person itself, as his Neanderthal views on sex get him into trouble several times. Rating: KQs.

16. Win-Win

Coming full circle from her public origin in giving some sap a brutal lesson in treachery and game theory, Liv Boeree is about to launch a new pod with the theme of benefitting everyone. It’s an amusing truism that once you extract what you need from the world, you tell everyone to be more generous. Liv has a lot of prep work put in, having done a bunch of vids in the simplified philosophy plus costumes genre, which is a surprisingly viable and popular space. This will likely be a strong podcast with suprapoker appeal: Liv is a winner and a sort of modern-day “It Girl.”

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Second guest Bill Perkins offers some fairly vulgar but viable life interpretation in episode two. Liv is good at re-explaining him but does not question his assumptions, letting him offer a surface glance at the sexual market place. (Although when Bill tells us the defining characteristic of the population of Texas is that people wish you well on your journey even Liv starts to wake up to the brain barbeque.) She starts to grill him on “externalities,” as if we don’t breathe without killing things, but they mutually elide the question as if it were some binary choice. Hello? People like Bill overwhelm you with their banal life calculus, droning on about how valuable their time is, but Liv is more tormented, torn between her thin leftism and her game theory awareness. However, when she gets him to explain how the market works, the podcast is magic, because now we hear the real deal. Later, when Bill claims victims are in vogue, she sours and explains his attitude as a kind of “radical optimism,” implicitly defending the opposite – it’s hard to play both sides well. She is repeatedly repulsed and attracted to his peculiar brand of oblivious hardness – the biological story of humanity never really changes. Bill’s monologue on accountability is memorable and the highlight of the pod so far; of course, she misses the great irony of Bill’s public life – life is not about accumulating memories but it is about serving those you love and need, which Bill in fact does better than anyone. In the end, she does a good job bringing out the great human from his buffoonish presentation, but it’s mostly accidental. It will be good to see how this podcast develops if only to understand the trends and pathologies of the data-driven lifestyle and its ambassadors.

Long-awaited return of Cate Hall to the poker world happens on Win-Win, which is a coup of sorts. We start with some incredibly dumb observations/questions on the law, but overall, Liv makes things work, even when she’s treading water. Liv isn’t really up for interrogating the religious experience Cate describes, but the conversation is still worth it, and she gives Cate plenty of room to tell her side and to reveal her astonishing intelligence and equivalent blind spots. Liv, in other words, has the work ethic and character to make this pod a long-term winner. In fact, quietly, she is already sneaking up on Phil Hellmuth (and certainly Doug Polk) as a sort of leading extra-poker breakout personality. When he goes, she may become, to the surprise of many, one of the most important people in the industry.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt interview next is more of a disappointment, as his understanding of AI, and certainly his embarrassing takes on how markets work, are too simple get anywhere. “There’s some real value to the ‘invisible hand'” he blunders through his argument over stories. “Runaway Capitalism!” he brainlessly invokes, while Liv can only nod along, failing to interrogate his meaningless observations because she, of course, agrees with them. It’s slightly miserable that he can make a publicly printed argument about residuals, one of the most insanely complex equity systems for human labor, propose that we come up with an even harder one to credit actors’ inputs into AI learning, and not realize this is precisely what you have to do to make marketless economies work. (Love or hate Marx, the man was extremely intelligent, and he would have understood this, while his cretinous emissaries rarely know what is coming out of their own mouths.) When she was up against Cate or Bill, she disagreed, and had more to say. AI literally can’t write like humans or create high art as it has no capacity to evaluate context; what people are really (rightly) afraid of is how their mediocrity will be exposed. Rating: two hotspots

17. David’s Ramblings

Your shifty, self-focused brother-in-law diaries over his divorce, his diet and poker: a (latest) lost generation of men is captured here.

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The diet repetition is striking: people obsessed with their calorie quality are rarely your friend, they are literally distracted by their own metabolism. His thought that someone would want to listen to him talk is what makes David conversely interesting, I suppose. “Keep fit and keep reading the bible,” he reminds himself or maybe us; I’m not sure he knows who he is talking to.  As he unwinds his thoughts he becomes quieter and more distant and you hear the misguided and painful alienation that rules his life. Fascinating but will take a strong stomach or a sociological mind to follow. What really matters we rarely have time for. [6/2022] David heads to the WSOP. He intends to see One and other disturbed tourist traps; I’d be fascinated by the podcast if I had the patience but David is just too comfortable in his suffering. His comment on being frustrated by not finding anyway “natural” to find someone “like on Bumble” is pathetic, but a pathos for this entire dumb generation. “I do get jealous of my friend’s moustache… it’s solid… he comes into my juice bar.” Is this real life? I’m impressed he’s made it this far in the pod and wish him well: this kind of honesty is compelling and rarer than you think. The small detail of him wanting the child and her wanting an abortion, but now keeping him from his child is interesting stuff. Think about David when you see the long lines of lost-looking men queueing the WSOP. [12/2022] Soul searching and pain from David as he comes to grips with his life, being pushed back into the poker scene, and being separated from his son. Unlike DGAF’s family story, it’s not clear David has the resources to overcome his challenges yet. The latest episode ends abruptly – this is more reality than most people can handle and it’s nice to know it exists.

[5/23] David gets a stake for play at Rivers and he makes some money; a little poker talk here and there. Funny anecdote about player looking for coke, told simply – more of this stuff is always good. David seems to have so little authority, when he tells a story about one of his crazy women, his sanity is immediately a question. David is confused when an interview doesn’t work out: bathos. Christian reading rooms, dates, loneliness, confusion. He’d like “to get into something more dangerous, more adventurous” as his voice trails off miserably. Many of us are just hanging on.

[3/24] Revealing episode where David’s bitterness and errors and wrath all come together to horrible effect.

Rating: ATo

18. Bankroll Burners

New to 2023, seems to be about the live Florida scene. There’s always room for more enthusiast content, the problem so far is a lack of editing, especially of Mike’s verbal clicks. Even amateur hour needs a little polishing. [4/23] Still going, a good sign. Audio is better, enthusiasm remains high, seems like a winner for small stakes shop talk. [3/24] In a world of small podcast quitters, these guys are still going strong, check it out.

19. Joey Ingram

No best poker podcasts list is complete without the 160 lb sleeveless gorilla of podcasts.

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While Joey has a knack for clowning around, for coming up with clumsy questions and bumbling when a serious guest comes on, the pure poker pull of his circle of high stakes beasts and legends, combined with his persistence, enthusiasm and ridiculous brosonality, makes for fun if meandering listening. Joey is the baby in the sun for poker youth. His carnival barking hypnotizes his audience and covers up a lot; nothing has changed in thousands of years of human culture. Moreover, he’s really quite the businessman and entertainer: where the act begins and the real Joey ends is not actually as clear as one might think – pretty clever to have no sleeves and still have something hidden there.

Interesting to hear his hints of fury at the GPI on the Chip Race Pod, somewhat ironically, regarding their oblivious dismissal of The Second Hardest Working Man in Poker Media. No matter, he has a direct line to Doug Polk, one of the sharper and (sometimes) more fair observers in the scene; an ace in the hole for Joey, and a clearly profitable relationship between two young old hands with a lot more fans than illusions. [8/2021] Definitely slowed down and out of the top ten for frequency reasons, will leave it in “the mix” out of respect for the great broadcaster. [5/2022] Joey returns as the opportunity arises to trade on his absurd reputation as an investigator, and in really hard fashion. This will, unfortunately, backfire eventually, but for now, enjoy the absurdity and hilarious self-promotional lessons of a modern-day gossip columnist. [11/2022] More of a streamer and gossip-monger for poker’s various scandals [read: situation normal] at this point. The credit Joey has earned has helped gloss over the very strange Norman Chad incident, wherein he seemed too drugged to understand why his “joke” was not really taken as a joke. Streamer madness, as they don’t say.

Slowed greatly in pace. Last pod was an infomerical for a product he was clearly paid for. Rating: Three Shout-outs

20. The Grid

There is no other podcast that hits the triune target of strategy, personality, and depth as well as Jennifer Shahade’s novelty on the usage of the deck. Shahade’s peculiar narration, with her unusual combination of accent, timing and east coast honk (her narration has apparently been criticized in the chess community, but I don’t see the issue at all) create a sort of unanxious rush which seizes the listener, like music in 7/4 but on poker (or, I suppose, chess) strategy. Unlike many pod hosts, who seem to think the listener wants to hear them sink into their sofa and yell at the dog before starting, Shahade’s method is to go straight into the subject matter; she doesn’t lose momentum in the post-mortem, either. So, the length is right, the subject on point, and the guests are interesting, in great part because she keeps them focused with her rapid patter and strong post-prod editing. I voted for this one in the GPI poker podcasts category.

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[3/2022] The latest episode is a platform for Shahade’s chess thoughts and the various societal causes that have co-driven her content and public life. Often when one is righteous, the energy is powerful but soon goes elsewhere; the issue for the pod is that that there’s still a long way to go on that poker hand matrix. Has the novelty of the Grid worn off for her, if not her audience? Where will the guests come from as the usual celebs are used up? Some of the answer is turning to more and more chess and chess players. “I’ve never been an endurance type of person,” she notes, but as we continue to listen, she still sounds enthusiastic. I suppose she could go deeper and ask more challenging questions of her guests – her kid handling of Olivier was a little tedious and he returned the favor on Two Lives – but this is still the most balanced and excellent of poker podcasts after several years, one that represents the community well and in a favorable light. Latest episode with Katie Stone reflects this. Angela Jordison episode is funny as you hear tournament poker thoughts in their wild, natural state. “AK might not be good there as my range is so wide.” Poker players are often as strategically contradictory as their culture.

[12/2022] As the podcast continues, Jen is more and more determined to bridge poker to chess, the most accepted so-called “skill game.” The Grid, in other words, is her part of a long history of efforts to bring poker out of the shadows, for better and worse, and thus aligned with the tournament craze, data generalizations, and the more agreeable people in the industry. Nate Solon episode is excellent; I really like how Jennifer gets a lot of ideas out of her guests quickly – a key lesson, maybe the key lesson, for other podcasters. In a sense, however, Jennifer is wasted on podcasts, being photogenic in an expressive, actorly way: in some more organized universe of poker, Jennifer leads its Today Show. [5/23] Finally a new show after three months; that one issue of continuation is going to be a struggle now. [7/2023] After a long run at number one, it’s time to acknowledge Jennifer is less committed to the Grid as a poker podcast, both in frequency and in poker focus. Still a great run of pods.

The Grid is disappearing. Once number one, I’ll leave it here until we are sure it is finished. Rating: QQ

21. Tournament Poker Edge

For the Equity Lottery enthusiast, this appears to be the best strategy poker podcast- maybe the only one [not true]. I find this bizarre, given that nearly half the existing podcasts are tournament scene gossip channels. Clayton Fletcher, who tends to sound a little, uh, mellowed, does a yeoman’s job of handling his apparent monopoly. Enough said. [11/2021] he’s still at it, with over 200 episodes, while many tournament-themed podcasts have fallen. [12/2022] I catch up with TPE and Clayton is still going strong. Clayton is a comic and has a good presence.

[8/23] Still growing, after all these years, a possible top twenty podcast.

[3/24] With the recent decline of certain tournament podcasts, TPE may be the best one at last.

Rating: 60/40

22. Aceholes

The most ballyhooed poker podcast since Henry Kilbane’s has assigned itself a lot to live up to.

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Caitlin Comeskey and Nikki Limo, aiming to be your new sassy but harmless but cute friends, kicked things up and off with some Brad and Andrew kitsch wherein Melissa Schubert stole the show. Which means this first pod is not really their first work; maybe we can skip to the second one. The first five minutes sound like why parents regret having children, then we go to yes, outtakes from a pod that has just started – are we getting a Best Of next week? – then we go to bios and why they are doing things and some takes on the GPI and some tournament and and and and and.

Limo says she fell in love with poker and its community and was inspired to “make content in this space.” Chills. So, nowhere to go but up, and the good news is, the talent is here to do it. Over multiple episodes, Nikki proves she has the confidence and charisma to carry the show. There is a sort of significance to a podcast like this existing: a rising number of women in poker, zoomers, and apparently potential money in the market to turn them on. It’s going to be close: as Limo settles in, it’s apparent she’s here for the girls, and that’s a tough niche in poker. Still, this is more than a pod, this is a Show, and has ambitions. Will they rise to them and the expectations they created? Third episode with Jesse Sylvia, and more in rapid succession: that’s a good sign. [8/23] Settling into the standard interview template and interviewees it looks like Aceholes is here to stay? Called up to the majors by Berkey, it’s not clear what the future holds. [11/23] Gross out stories with Joey. Joey worries about vinegar expiring. Good LCD, dating for dorks stuff.

[5/24] Nothing for a while. It’s really about moving up, and both are Nikki and Caitlin are making moves in the industry. Rating: A9o

23. Poker Distilled

Peter Clarke, coaching legend, brings on more mental game. New in 2023. Episode two features a disturbing dream which turns out to be a video game replay, a lesson there and he grasps it. Top 20 candidate.

24. The PokerNews Podcast

The one true queen of poker hostesses, Sarah Herring [since departed as host], presides over a professionally produced main-stream show. Co-hosts include the tireless Chad Holloway and Jeff Platt. It’s endless NVG, minus the keyboard trolls, plus light interviews. Speaking of, nice recent one with Amnon Filippi is a 2020 highlight; hey prison doesn’t sound half bad, especially if you like naps. This pod is a poker culture standby: regular, frequent, and harmless. [8/2021] Still producing on the reg, and a good way to catch up on poker headlines, although Herring appears to be on maternity leave and later, sick leave. [3/2022] A return visit and somehow Hamster Joe is on: as the kids say, I can’t even. On the previous episode, Katchalov’s confused flight (a “one percent chance” of violence? Are we talking about this earth, this Eastern Europe or another one?) from Ukraine is good coverage. Still, the analysis is cable-news light; Faded Spade, which is credibly rumored to be losing a key contract because of fundamental product problems, is praised and unquestioned – when you are doing news, you are not supposed to be (only, I guess) carrying water but informing. The new intro music is amazingly theatrical for a poker variety show, could any podcast live up to it? Not this one, perhaps, but the truth is, the scene needs this MSNBC of poker media: why isn’t it on Youtube as a video program? It would soar in popularity, could even become the nightly news-lite of the scene, and be a reward for these long-time poker industry stars. In the end, however, PokerNews is a massive contradiction: the news is about a small circle of poker success stories but pitched at everyone on the outside; maybe you just can’t turn this into a big success without revealing the problem. PokerNews doesn’t come close to Jlil’s podcast in terms of popularity, which should be a striking fact for anyone trying to understand poker culture.

[11/2022] New hosting set up, similar flavors. We are left with the usual suspects including Chad Holloway, but thankfully no barking Brent Hanks, I believe. Instead, a new host Connor Richards. The new clapping intro music is awful and makes it hard to hear whatever the hell they are saying. Without Sarah, this one is suffering on voice talent alone.  [5/23] The Chad and Jesse Show seems to be a spin off for the 2023 WSOP.

[3/24] Continues to be a standard in the poker podcast space. Rating: PG-13

25. The Overlay

[added 8/20] Chicago based. Reviews look promising. Two guys chat about the game, including strategy. [3/2022] Still running, this one has legs. They seem to be focusing on PLO. Sound is crisp and loud but needs a touch of editing. Energetic and solid podcast. [7/2022] Continues active. Fall brings a series on “tough hands to play.” [8/23] Still going and seems to have a small but devoted base. July episode goes over their WSOP.

[3/24] Still going strong, worth a listen.

26. Poker Ain’t Life

New in 2023, already a good record of episodes. [5/23] Had the flavor of a short run but these brothers have been podding all year and deserve notice. [8/23] Pod politely announces closure: “We are planning to attend podcast seminars and come back polished with a whole new format b/c currently the algorithm aint life.” A strong and deserving pod with a clear target audience, we’ll leave this up until they restart. Still, what they mean is that they are disappointed in the reaction, in the numbers. Well, look around: lots of competition, boys.  [11/23] They are back, good news. Good first return episode with The Hawk… which ends up getting some attention in 2024. Rating: ATs

27. Poker: All the Games

Reviews of games and beers, solid stuff. Apparently really hitting its stride this year as it focuses on mixed games and adds a mixed game enthusiast, Martin Smith, as co-host.

28. Alex Duvall

YouTube interview show, not sure it is streamed through standard podcast sources. [3/24] Still going strong, a fun gossip channel.

29. The Nick Vertucci Show

Hustler Live co-owner and player starts an interview show. Show opens with a big space where a Blue Lives Matter Flag was, so clearly the disclaimer Nick pridefully starts with is as silly as it sounds. In any case, it’s as cordial and normal a pod interview as would be expected. If you are “faint of heart” and love L.A. poker culture, this is exactly the poker show for you, with gentle Nick and fun Veronica providing some easy conversation and yawner jokes.

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Gman is a fine first guest, of course. Nick gets up to take a piss in the middle of the pod, it’s so, uh, relaxed. In another episode, Nick keeps telling us he didn’t know what was going on with Veronica, deigning to be above her trivialities; it’s not really the great thing he seems to think it is, ignorance. Still, if the conflict and excitement here is Nick and Veronica bickering over their mutual silliness and cover-your-ass disclaimers, at least that’s something. However, as the new puritans, always hunting down reasons to be offended, shout at Nick online, I have to root for him and Veronica.

In episode 5, Nick lands Phil Hellmuth. Unlike the Jungleman interview, this one is much more relevant, as Nick has the strength to ask topical and controversial questions. On the other hand, it is ridiculous how often he interrupts his guest, perhaps out of nervousness, while continuously flattering himself about his honesty. Easy, big guy, you already won the war. Episode 8 begins abysmally as the two laugh at each other’s conversation, but it’s not witty or interesting enough to carry off. Then, they start oversharing on interesting stuff from HCL – Nick probably got in a bit a hot water for those hot details. Filling an hour is harder than people think – all the harder with the public’s eyes all on Nick and the Hustler.

[11/2022] As Nick bombs at handling the HCL scandal, it’s hard to be objective about this podcast, with all that irritating self-satisfaction he sure hasn’t earned. That said, his interview with Airball is well done and the show clearly has legs. Still runs the embarrassing disclaimer to kick off the show: Nick regularly blocks people on Twitter, hides his tweets, and does other whiny shit but still wants credit as a bold straight shooter. C’mon buddy. [5/23] The buffoonery continues strong, well done. [9/23] Nick puts together a strong interview with benighted clown Nic Airball, then designates a new subseries called NV Raw to underscore his L.A. radio truthteller ambitions. Somehow Nick didn’t see through Rob Mercer, which is interesting. Overall, it’s quietly uninteresting podcast for people who think Blank Check Ben, Jboogs, and Airball have star power. A bit of an L.A. thing, I suppose.

[3/24] Still going strong. Poker Karen episode is good stuff as the down-low narcissist reveals himself. Rating: A10o

30. The Mouthpiece with Mike Matusow

It is almost hard to describe the special relationship legends of the game Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth have with each other and with poker. [11/23] Just two episodes in 2023, this classic train wreck might be done.

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For one thing, they really can’t do anything wrong, or more precisely, anything of consequence, because they are so ensconced in the poker firmament – critique beyond observation is truly futile. The two are often so immune to outside information that it is hard for players or the public to even interact with them in any effective way; thus all the amusing anecdotes. At the table, their strategies are so bizarrely primitive (yet because of the way poker works, still highly competitive; Phil himself is one of the greatest players ever by any sane metric), all while being so certain of themselves despite the advances in poker, that they are like iron-age mechanics mocking the absurd lack of solidity of a rubber tire. In one memorable moment on Live at the Bike, Phil is so outraged at a cooler delivered to his buddy that he raves at the fearsome Garrett Adelstein – not exactly a novice to the game – to the point that any human with less experience and control would have had words or flattened the ridiculous, short-stacking, long-bodied whiner, this Bill de Blasio of poker. Finally Garrett lets off some steam with a mildly sardonic comment about how well he runs. Phil freezes, shocked back to reality at what he decides is an “insane” comment. Usually it takes a yeoman fiction writer to make up irony this rich.

With that kind of baggage, preparing to listen to the Mike Matusow podcast – already declared the best poker podcast by his all-star buddy and staker – isn’t exactly easy. I start backwards with the “Phil Hellmuth Special with Special Guest Phil Hellmuth, Part 1” (Again, how does one respond to this stuff?) Yet Mike somehow makes the show about himself – which is what, a relief?

I think it actually is. Matusow is a veteran and speaks with conviction. It’s not impossible to forget, for a few moments, all the craziness when someone who has been through it all answers calls and maybe more than others, makes himself available to the public. Sometimes people are just interesting whether they are behind the glass or not, and if anything, the poker podcasts like this one can remind us of how fragile and sympathetic those we are needfully wary of really are.

Still, bring your headphones. Rating: Four Rants.

[3/20] I catch up with Mike’s recounting of his time in Cabo. One of the powers of social media is you find out just what that crazy uncle does on days that aren’t Thanksgiving or Christmas. [8/2020] Last pod was in May, the energy is gone from the “best podcast.” [2022] Happy to report Mike is back and energized and rambling like a drunk at a bar. He goes all year to my surprise – I’m curious as to who the audience is. [5/23] No output since January, but we’ll leave it up because if Mike does one thing right, it’s come back from the depths. 5/24 back again!

31. The Jeff Gross Flow Show

is pretty much the mirror opposite of poker podcasts like Sessions or my Poker Zoo. Jeff focuses on poker tournament’s golden one percent, and generally handles his assigned task well enough.

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He’s a competent interviewer but does babble over his guests a bit and tends to repeat himself: in one interview, Kevin Martin can barely get a word in for long stretches. Speaking of, Jeff is also a popular streamer and brings in a few of his fellow Twitchers. It’s light stuff on the whole: we get to hear a lot of softballs knocked out of the infield. Perhaps the best thing Jeff does to expand himself and his audience is interview a few interesting non-poker players, although his choice of personalities appears to be RNG’d. Nevertheless, if you love poker elephants, or if there is that sign-my-chest gene in your family, this is your bag. Jeff’s website is nice, too: slick, eat-off-the-counter stuff. I really hate the lack of dates on his media; very unprofessional for one who aspires to the smoothieness. Whatever you think of him, he delivers the volume: Coin Rivet is his other podcast, featuring poker and crypto. [4/2022] Really an admirable consistency and content overall and always with the biggest guests. Seems to have improved as an interlocuter. Still missing that incisive moment of insight or that important question: at heart, a grinder and a lot of a grinder’s arid hours. [11/2022] The man continues to spit out content, one of the top creators at this point. [5/23] Still going hard, still pretty bland. “Is it fair to say you’ve seen a lot?” he asks Boski, then moves on to the next cliche before anything meaningful can be excavated. “Phil Nagy is a visionary.” Gross’ main competition is ChatGPT and eighth graders who wear ties.

5/23 Curiously, Jeff shows up on HCL for a goofy SNG with Hellmuth and the chuckleheads he ingratiates himself with. Amazingly, Jeff is so naturally insincere even when he is dead drunk he seems like he is faking it. Truly a contemporary influencer talent level.

Rating: three scarves.

32. The Red Chip Poker Podcast

Red Chip’s popular sequence of slightly differently formatted poker podcasts have fallen off the radar for low-stakes strategy listeners of late, as the focus for much of the year turned to hearing from Poker Elephants and other movers/shakers in the scene, and away from than the joys of winning and losing through the lens of wide-eyed former host and NL enthusiast Zac Shaw. That’s not to say new host Robbie, visiting from Top Pair, a mixed-games man and entrepreneur of poker media in general, has done anything wrong: the guests deserve to be heard from. As the idiots say, it is what it is… for now. I sense change. Update [11/2020] As predicted, Robbie is gone and former pro Chris Warren in now in, promising a more strategy heavy podcast. [9/2021] Warren is now out, back to the true horse of RCP, James Sweeney, for Season 5. [5/2022] I click on the latest, this time hosted by Adam “Weasel” Jones, who lives up to his nickname with abrasively irritating take on poker wisdom from the past. He doesn’t seem to understand what the words ancient, or theorem mean; if we want to use exaggeration to make our point, what exactly is SuperSystem if the year 2000 is ancient? A theorem means a proposition, it isn’t something that is proven. THAT’S THE DEFINITION. Lining up your stuffed animals in order to shoot them doesn’t prove much valor; really weak, unfair stuff from an otherwise noted coach who should use his genius to see just how far these theorists got without what he keeps calling a “GTO solver”: can i get a non-gto solver? I guess we all have bad takes, this is still a decent pod, especially for newbs. [8/2022] It seems I was wrong or they were wrong but all of season 5 is hosted by coach Weasel, Adam Jones, who has a rather severe blue-collar UK approach and an equally severe accent. Hard to want to listen to him compared to other hosts, but he is a great influence on the NL25 crowd and can get you there. [5/23] Season six looks over and will likely go on as long as James does. Tons, TONS of content for low-stakes players.

[3/24] Looks more focused on subscribers, not sure when that happened. Many episodes are free. Rating: Q10cc

33. Las Vegas Poker Coach

Report from a poker coach, apparently restarted in 2023. Return episode talks a great deal about his personal habits including a digression on showering. The lone wolf approach could be interesting, we’ll have to see.  The coach is pretty low-energy and decibel level but with a smooth delivery – he seems like the Poker Dad, more than anything. On a new episode he is uncomfortably uncritical of his own game for a low-stakes player. He seems concerned with mental game and other secondary functions, such as the fascination regarding when to quit: blame Tommy Angelo, again. All two-five games are soft, so we want to hear the details more than the mindset. Love the background audio, which is well-blended with his slightly hushed delivery.

34. Nerdthusiast Poker Podcast

New in 2020, looks tournament focused. By Anthony Cicali and Brian Keane, two NJ poker dudes. [9/2021] Looks like this one has some legs, and I check out the Aug 4th episode. News highlights and opinion. “Nerdthusiast” appears to be the umbrella of a family of podcasts focused on games, associated with a Patreon account. [1/2022] Looks to be going strong. I like the recurring attention to poker movies; podcasters and bloggers and vloggers really, really need to do a better job covering poker culture. Anthony meanwhile publishes a poker pod article full of misinformation and which adds to the marketplace SEO clutter, unfortunately – that 50$ was hopefully worth it. [3/2022] The guys cover/promote the “Nutted Society” NFT grift, where the images of personalities are lifted and sold without regards to rights or compensation or taste – choose your poison. Intellectual property, or more basically, the right to control your own image, is some of the most interesting judicial legislation we have. It’s what protects our privacy from exploitation, whether you are famous, don’t want to be famous, or a porn revenge victim. Side with that fascinating tradition, or the people giving you some sunglasses to get you buy their shitty post-photo algo cartoons. Corrupt in all the ways and interesting in none: what a combo. [11/2022] Still going, impressive. [8/23] Still on the reg. Rating: 109o

35. Upswing Level Up

With Doug Polk on the downlow since Coinflex, his soldiers Mike Brady and Gary B. do some strategy. Hard to go wrong with these two. [4/23] Professionals that they are, this one continues well and is the novice to intermediate strat pod you may want, obviating many pretenders. [8/24] Still active, filling the light strategy talk niche well. Too short to replace or compete with the big podcasts.

36. L.A. Poker Round-up

Tournament coverage with Derek Kwan.

37. Low Limit Cash Games

Abc poker advice from Brett Mason, who sounds like he has some experience in the southern live scene. After getting through an absolute thicket of intro sales talk, latest episode contains some wise words. What was that leapfrogging thing again? I couldn’t figure it out. Incredible output by Brett as he continues to pod in his fourth season. [11/23] Still active and with advertising – looks like Brett is doing the work. Rating: J10o

38. The Jonathan Little Weekly Hand

The all-too-well-known Jonathan Little overwhelms us with a barrage of marketing and gimmicks, one of which is this quasi-podcast. (Check out A Little Coffee for yet more JLil.)

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Over the course of a few episodes, incomplete bet sizing reasoning, misunderstanding of 3b incentives and therefore continuing ranges, along with a general lack of nuance leads to some questionable recommendations. All this is puzzling considering the prestige and weight JLil throws around the learning community. Little’s focus on value betting as the lens through which strategy traverses does lead to some good outcomes, but is only half a battle-plan. In one episode, for instance, he praises a very lucky result which was derived not from the strategy but from misunderstanding the villain in the hand, a logic bender which missed the real educational opportunity. This misleading pedagogy from a reputable commentator and accepted expert probably isn’t apparent to the untrained eye, but is the sort of stuff that helps keep the games good by confusing low-stakes regs. [12/2021] Jonathan’s willingness to grab onto whatever seems to sell, including a poker version of Comedians in Cars, an utterly shite NFT regurgitation, and of course his endless and overpraised content, all while blurbling his catch phrases of “helping people” and “adding value” make him and pokercoaching.com the Walmart of poker training. In one podcast, he urges you to check a chart while playing live; there is nothing he is not willing to make slightly worse in exchange for his own marginal gain. It should come as no surprise he’s willing to sling Breinfuel, the latest nutritional beverage scam. [3/2022] Episode on preflop ranges doesn’t explain correctly why ranges are what they are, but leans on the pot size; interesting, but incomplete. Contrary to what he says, it is also not a problem if you get three-bet if you have the range to deal with it – in fact, you want your opponents to be aggressive against you if you have the right strategy, as now you capture their inefficient money more often – that’s theory in action, not confidently sharing the latest chart, ready to be right all over again once that chart is proven wrong. And 100 bbs is “deepstacked,” mkay? Comically, the podcast doesn’t even get an edit, and he leaves the air dead while he takes a call; my irritation with him can’t last if he is this much of a clown at heart: who can listen to this stuff? That shitreg who seat changes to your left, of course. [4/2022] Little reviews the Rampage vs Nik suicide bluff. I desperately want to be a fair reviewer and be forced to amend my comments above, but of course Jlil’s endless poor taste in everything resurfaces immediately, including the superficial, incredibly dumb phrase that he “doesn’t mind” a choice made by Nik. (You’d better have the strategic authority of Doug Polk or Sauce to you say stuff like this.) If you deign to accept someone’s lesser choice, pray tell, O seigneur, what would you prefer, in your wisdom? Jlil, who got crushed by his own poor play in the Pokergo cash game I last saw him in, doesn’t say. In fact, that’s not a coincidence, as the podcast abruptly ends without analysis: what’s happening is that he is really just recycling content from Hustler to his advantage. It’s a business plan and a lifestyle. In fact, I think I can make my peace with Little by understanding him better: he is not so much a poker authority as he is a sort of poker influencer, a myspace god pushing fast-food for poker’s styrofoam eaters. Low, low prices. Rating: A3o

39. Smart Poker Study

Sky Matsuhashi is a hype man and very, well, excitable. Interestingly, he’s a smooth and easy listen too, employing an almost suspiciously low-level of communicative complexity, as if he has taken courses in influencing people.

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The pod lengths themselves are also short and sweet: clearly Sky is the master of his audience. His newly announced goal, after years of podcasting and coaching, is to create a top-tier training site. The problem is, I’m not entirely sure he’s up to it, as this podcast is clearly best for novices and weekend warriors seeking quick fixes. The low-level of nuance and absence of holistic strategy (consider alone just the number of Tips and Tricks and Lists) is not really very “smart,” and his plan of delivering thirty second tickles a la Jonathan Little is one of the worst ways of communicating a game of infinite possibility. We hear a lot about “Bread and Butter” situations rather than analyzing what the overall strategy might be, or really why anything actually happens in poker. When confronted with a sizing question, he urges the listener to experiment with how much villains are willing to call, rather than building from theory and establishing a thorough foundation of knowledge for future play; in this respect, Matsuhashi bookends the many vloggers currently creating a new wave of fish by demonstrating how to play and think in poker’s most primitive mode. In a key episode on Miller’s Poker’s 1%, Matsuhashi perpetuates myths about the book which damage the listener, including confusing GTO with frequencies. Conversely, and to his great credit, Sky grasps the importance of the Events chapter.  On the previous episode, Sky gushes over what are some basically horrifying quotations from Alex Fitzgerald’s latest pamphlet. For one of his best episodes that I listened to, Sky bizarrely reads an effective article from Upswing, upping the value of the pod, I suppose. As I go deeper, it turns out Sky regularly recycles content from others, giving them full credit, of course… but still. Ironically, Sky is a man of standards and rules himself, offering unimpeachable bankroll advice and probably a lot of good things I don’t have time to discover, but this over-simplified study train just leads to being railroaded by better players and necessitating deconstruction by a better coach or training site before you move up to any significant stake. I’m experiencing deja vu, however: maybe the secret is that what Matuhashi is doing is just the way it has to be – I’ve argued this myself. In any case, Sky is INCREDIBLY EXCITED to INFINITE AND BEYOND. In sum, this is a practical, decent hodgepodge of thoughts that won’t eat up your day – great for your uncle who sucks at poker and who will never, ever really change, but probably not so much for the wayward contrarian who found this obscure site in the search for top poker podcasts. Ganbatte! Rating: Q9o

40. The Mindset Advantage  &  Poker on The Mind

I originally closed with these because it’s with some reluctance that I research or rate the mental game poker podcasts.

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For the vast majority of players, the delusion that they have some Platonic A-game within, like the hidden six pack or 23-inch waist, is a useful illusion for players and the businesspeople who cater to this illusion – including casinos, hack poker coaches, and the entire industry of opportunists. (I’m not asking you to feel bad for the players, just to understand the difference between a theft and a grift). Tilt is the bewildered reaction of the mind when it cannot grasp a sudden and injurious event – yet instead of learning about the event, many travel down the path of calming or strengthening their nerves; in other words, dodging the problem. (Tendler, the true legend of this field, has the more powerful “inchworm” model to explain some of this: this remains the non-plus-ultra of mental game modelling – but his podcast passed away years ago.) Nevertheless, as you push your abilities, the need for mental discipline can be more than just a stand-in for poker IQ. Fortunately, as with Melissandre, most of the mental coach’s abilities are not magic or science but simple tricks and glamours, because what the mental coaches really are, are Life Coaches for people who won’t admit they need a temporary extra mommy or daddy. Basically, the good mental coach urges organization and goal setting, which just happen to be the basis of any successful human’s life. [1/2023] Surprisingy, the pod is still at it – that’s impressive. Still, this just remains silly – the intro claims “he would rather take a 1/2 player playing his A game than a 25/50 professional playing his C game.” That is fucking stupid, whatever it means, which is unclear in itself. Take them for what? Poker? Grifting? Who can say. In other news, I see the secret of the podcast’s continuity – a second host is helping out.

Really, such hesitation on my part is mostly unnecessary, because it turns out a lot of mental game podage just isn’t mental game. In Mindset Advantage, Elliot Roe is just another host, or rather, one with an especially soothing voice, asking boring performance and business questions and getting answers we have heard a million times from the usual suspects. If fact, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t see omnipresent Matt Berkey on to receive a nice bromide shower – aha, episode 63. Roe elicits real gems from his guest: “Do the best you can with the opportunity presented to you.” Groundbreaking, this from a man whose own paid podcast (not reviewed here as it is part of a paid training program) simply astonishes with its brilliance. Elliot has the temerity to then go on to reciprocally push his guest’s product without any real understanding of it or who it is for or its limitations, the very ones which Berkey to his credit has absolutely labored to improve and adjust, the ones that really do matter to actual players investing in their future. The mental game coach is in other words, a very suspicious part of the poker industrial complex. For Sandra Mohr and the upcoming doco, Eliot is suddenly “Highlighting Women in Poker,” having last had a female guest on his podcast six months earlier: more glamours. Roe’s recommendation to Sandra? “take steps to decrease or eliminate tilt.”  I mean, what do you say about this stuff? Maybe you need it, I won’t judge. As Judith Martin, a true giant of life’s mental game and master of our behavior in it, legendarily summarized, “Don’t, and don’t forget to.”

Poker on the Mind is possibly the more useful of the mental game poker podcasts, specifically catering to the special demands of tournament poker, which really is something of a mental trip. Where chip value leaves the one to one ratio, unusual decisions must be made, and I can see, contrary to Mason Malmuth’s otherwise strong if curmudgeonly evaluation of where this stuff belongs, a real place for life planning and coordination. Further, the prevailing trend of the young doing better in the tournament scene suggests that the old need an extra, non-strategic leg up to manage massive multiday clusterfucks. (Insert little blue pill jokes here.) All I’m sure about is that those entirely inaccurate, bland corporate cartoons of Patricia and Gareth are extremely tilting! Must be a mental game thing. [12/2021] I listen to this podcast after a very long time, and it hasn’t changed, tournament poker and mental game. A little staid, these two- I think they benefit from controversy and need a bit of a wakeup call. “What I’m thinking, in my mind” one of them says: sigh. [11/2022] Poker on the Mind is still at it – Dr. Cardner and Gareth have become the long-distance runners of mental game/tournament stuff.

41. Table 1

Justin Young and Art Parmann apparently run a private table at the Aria and are trying to set up a consistently good but big game. Interestingly, they are doing a podcast with it, emphasizing gambling. It’s a clever set up that should reel some in. [11/23] Carrying on, could be popular.

42. The Poker Zoo

Not going to review my own podcast – but you are free to on Itunes or on my site, where all the pods are here. Season two starts in June 2023, including the return of Limon.

43. Suited Kings

Max and Wes talk tournaments.

44. Rec Poker

is a pleasant surprise among poker podcasts in many ways. This pod aims, much like Smart Poker Study and His and Hers, at your average bewildered poker buff.

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While a good portion of it is remainder pile stuff, including some interviews that have been better covered elsewhere, the overall atmosphere is cordial and listenable, with a satisfyingly brisk conversational pace and no sense of hustle. More importantly, Steve has a developed vision and therefore his pod has a direction: he’s trying to completely overhaul his game: the podcast has become the documentation of his effort to gather information. At the same time he is refocused on specifically serving recreational players and in fact will be launching some sort of membership community in October 2019.

Interesting, that. It’s a fine line of camaraderie and marketing, and the sheep are going to be shorn by a lot of incomplete coaching, as a lot of them have already appeared on this pod. Nevertheless, this new story-line raises the bar for what could be just another forgotten drip of poker media and dubious strat output. Having played the typical reactive style that is neither here nor there (he mistakenly calls it “exploitative” whereas exploitation is a technical word measuring profitable distance from the optimal), Steve goes on something of a Listening Tour, recording the thoughts of many stronger players and editing them into whole series of advice. There are many high points for this show, including bringing on podcast pope Brokos, Grid star Shahade, and even troll pin-cushion Matt Berkey for multiple shots. Steve’s not afraid to interview pariah Alec Torelli, which I think is a good choice, as some of the animus toward this player is fair but is certainly also just the poker chicklets clucking along with Rooster Doug. Sky Matsuhashi comes on to make a predictable hash out of a BU vs BB analysis. The podcast moves over time toward Steve’s improvement, including a promising GTO vs Exploitative teaser that I decide to check out: a relevant detail is that Steve starts with 50 bb work, so we can assume Steve is looking at tournament play for the long haul. This is a bigger hint than even the title of the pod, as the Rec Poker Podcast really has its most natural place on a low-stakes tourney grinder’s table. Like the baby sea turtles on the beach, some will survive. [9/2021] I check in with episode 308 for some awkwardness and way too many guests, but they seem to be doing some reasonable strat work in the “Poker Out Loud” vein. [5/23] Seems to have joined the Cardplayer Lifestyle publishing group.

[1/24] A couple episodes confirm the basic problem with the premise: people who don’t know what they are doing can’t really help each other that much. One of the hosts, Tyler, I think, is head and shoulders over the others, who give clearly poor advice. Rating: Three card protectors.

45. Risky Business

Expected 2024 pod with controversial statistician Nate Silver and popular journalist Maria Konnikova, poker related. [5/24] We start episode one with a standard check raise versus some fish at an EPT side event. We’re celebrating her tournament success but there is no other point to this anecdote. Buried in the recap, Maria mentions needing to win third place just to break even for the series – the real story of the unprofitability of tournament poker – and what a scam most of it is – is lost. Of course, she doesn’t need to make any money and likely hasn’t in her career: most players simply don’t. They pay rake and get recognition in a kind of liquidity culture that has strangely little to do with the theory of the game aside from short term swings. Yet none of this really matters: there are already more advertisers and hype for this one pod than in the top ten podcasts in poker. Next, she’s “scared” because of a candidate, then instantly dismisses Nate’s poor point on the Kennedys. Maria doesn’t like Nate much; his bumbling induces an insincere, tension cutting laugh from her at several points. Next, the overwrought and disputed “gender pay gap” gets them worked up in the context of women’s basketball. Maria understands basketball so little she suggests that Caitlin Clark’s career numbers make her a better player than Peter Maravich; the repetition of this foolish idea is almost shocking given the prestige we’re supposed to attach to Risky Business and these two influencers. Next we have to hear about how Maria’s speaker circuit payments aren’t comparable to her peers despite her degree, a painful display of not understanding how markets work. Worse, Nate doesn’t really argue and instead hides behind being a “dumb sports bro” when we are supposed to be hearing whip-smart dialogue from these two all-stars. How is any of this likeable? Who is this for? Future bureaucrats, twitter scolds, and cringing east coast “elites,” I suppose. We are told what is good and that’s all we need to know. So far, this podcast is really about the opposite of risk – it is about the comfort of success and the NPR-friendly bromides it inspires.

Episode two is mostly milquetoast AI concerns – guessing at what is probable from what industry staff think, ok – until the second half, which kicks off with an long and retarded advertisement from T-mobile that argues getting away from white clothes at Wimbledon is somehow brave progress – this is is the sort of low-tier stuff we’re celebrating. Then we get to elections, which is Nate’s forte and we at least get a potentially interesting take on pulling Biden later in the election than other talking heads recommend. As the anal sex specialist said, it gets better. Next, Malcolm Gladwell appears in an another ad, after some neutered bass notes, to tell us that coming up with new things requires being open to new things. Where’s the Seinfeld riff? We’re all getting old, is what this podcast is telling us, because it was targeted at us. The kids don’t know about this pod because they don’t watch this channel. Bow-chka-bow-bow-brr-derp-a-derm. Rating: A6o.

46. Ante Up

One of the granddads of poker podcasts, apparently having run since 2007, this AM radio style talk show covers the scene in a digestible, rambling style. The deep polarity in podcasts is vanity shows by poker elephants, and enthusiastic amateur hours like this one.  With the death and reformation of the 2+2 pod, which used key guests and a clearer host dynamic in order to straddle the middle ground, Ante Up could somewhat take over as a generalized poker content go-to, but has a little too much unfocused poker-dad bavardage to gain nearly as much interest. In one episode the hosts give solid if easy advice regarding a hand so egregiously played you have to wonder who listens to this podcast and reads Ante Up: the games are apparently good out there. Overall, it’s hard to listen for too long to such aimless fare despite the amiable presentation. Worse, too many “ums” and pen clicking and knuckle knocking or whatever it is the slap-happy hosts keep doing – try a little editing or something, you aren’t really entertaining the morning commute. [11/2021 still going strong, this is reliable programming and deserves a better home and microphones. For pure consistency of work, good-humored chatter, and unpretentious poker coverage, I’m moving them up to the top ten for now. [3/2022] Shutting down after the longest run of poker podcasting ever, congratulations and condolences.

[7/2023] Inexplicably back, with host Joe Scales- is that new? Basically new management, focused on Chicago area poker, as far as I can tell. Rating: 109ss

47. Two Fish at the Table

Approved at 2+2, this one looks like a review of ESPN WSOP boom year episodes. Nostalgia pod. [5/23] Looks like they are expanding their coverage, good for them. [8/23] Continues to run and evolve, recently doing a good interview with Andreas Wagner.

poker podcasts 2024

And the rest: Active, Semi-active, and related Podcasts

All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg

The incredibly smart, dorky hosts of this massively successful pod, which puts the lie to the childish idea that successful businessmen are all diabolical tyrant sociopaths, cover a wide territory of topics, including a little poker. Their quality of being bright, curious and lighthearted (so long as their egos aren’t touched), so foreign to much of poker culture, with its permanently schizophrenic LFG/please-motivate-me-to-the thing-I-don’t-want mentality, could guide a few of our denizens to a better place, figuratively and literally – as well as to the difference between the two. [1/2022] Chamath takes some heat for his opinions, but the truth is the Uighur genocide isn’t exactly proven, even though something is going on. No one likes accuracy and the mind rejects ambivalence, especially in their capitalist overlords.

[3/2022] It’s interesting to listen to these businessmen, as they always seem to have a good grasp of the macro, despite their micro limitations. Vision is key to success, and not being blinkered by small biases and problems. Funny how the blueprint to success arises from hysterical fear, in this case, capitalizing upon our weaknesses makes strengths. All grows, if not toward god, as Hugo wrote. If poker players just listened to this podcast they’d be one-hundred percent more informed within a few months. Economics is hard, and our current generation of future leaders has never been less informed or more hoodwinked by the ghosts of the utopians. Rating: AJhh

All-in with Collin

New to 2023 tournament pod. He “can’t imagine” someone’s emotions for winning a tournament pass. Dull but polite start, but lots of good content follows, including a smart interview with Kevin Mathers. [8/23] Interesting guest choices, looks like Collin’s pod is working. [11/23] Well, no episodes of late: looks over all too soon. [3/24] Where have you gone, Collin?

BitB Cash

In between strat vids, BitB does interviews of their Coaching for Profits proteges. Not really a podcast but close enough. [11/23] Looks done but we’ll give it a few more months. [3/24] Comes alive out of no where

The Bettor Life

Haven’t listened yet but looks peripherally poker related with some known knowns.

The Blackrain Audio Experience

Short form basic poker advice from a legend of the micros. [7/2022] It’s all tricks and tips with Nathan, the Snickers Bar of poker coaches.

The Brandon Adams Podcast

A very diligent podcast with the Venn diagram of poker and economics. I’ve listened to the Sulsky podcast, which was high-minded – I’d expect Brandon to keep to this pattern. A serious show by someone who doesn’t really need to do this stuff, but is acting out of his own curiosity and need for amusement. A little stiff as an interviewer is Brandon. Still, good show, great guests. The missing spice is passion and involvement in the game. It’s great that there are so many poker elephants who have made their bones, but the truth is a lot of them just don’t care about the game that much any more. Good for them. [7/2022] Seems to be moving away from poker, more and more finance. Good educational stuff for poker players, I’d imagine. [9/2022] Patrik Antonius, the legend himself, comes on the BAP, but again Brandon is just such an awkward interlocutor it’s somehow hard listening. Brandon describes Patrik’s time in Australia while Patrik listens. Brandon threatens us with “interesting golf stories” and delivers. Patrik makes some up and downs. Money is exchanged. Huge bets but we can’t get their names or any details. “Golf can get crazy sometimes,” he draws out insightfully from Patrick. Yawn. [5/23] Still going, less poker.

[10/23] Might be done but my prediction is a few more random episodes. Rating: 66

Card Sharts

Comedians riff while playing poker. Pretty good idea, haven’t listened to much yet.

Cards Chat

The latest incarnation of vivacious media mushroom Robbie Strazynski, the Cardplayer Lifestyle publisher. Robbie is the voice of persistent poker enthusiasm, if not the face quite yet. (He tries to remedy this with the unpopular “Orbit” video carousel, where some insightful, relevant conversations are victim to a nightmarish visual format beamed in from the golden era of television.) The Cards Chat forum audience itself isn’t exactly going to change that trajectory, being a mess of unfocused, amateur interest in the game and a daunting vortex of leaderless fish. If Robbie started partnering with their new ambassador Matt Vaughan, he could probably move mountains for the forum and its members, but his love of softcore personality pieces and poker culture mush is simultaneously his strength and his handicap. In other words, he’s a strong conversationalist and interviewer, but in poker, it’s all secondary to winning and the pursuit. [5/2022] I’m beginning to not be able to tell where Robbie the salesman and Robbie the player begins and ends, with all the promos and affiliate deals. He’s come, well, a long way. [7/2022] Heading toward 100 episodes, Robbie maintains his light touch with more big names like Lex V. and Amanda B.

[3/24] Looks done. Robbie brings the energy and if he is gone, the pod needs help.

Dumb Marks

Gambling and fun stuff, not sure how much poker yet. Pittsburgh focus.

Easy Living Poker

New to 2023 wth Garon Keuton. Florida. Needs a better sound set-up. [5/24] Nothing for months.

Free Crush Live Poker Podcast

Shortened, free version.This awkwardly named flow of content reflects the personality and concerns of Bart Hanson, prolific live poker instructor. (If we take a pause to consider the amount of poker content certain creators have made, such as Bart here, or Jonathan Little, or Doug Polk, or Matt Berkey, it’s really quite an extraordinary feat.) In any case, Bart is clearly very comfortable on the mic. He is also a very amiable, making him a great mentor to players. Lots of value here from this loss leader strat publication for the aspiring. Strong, highly focused pod but better on video because of the hand history aspect. Rating: A10s

The Heart of Poker

Kara Scott, poker hostess extraordinaire, creates an interview template. [3/2020] Kara will be using a novelty structure in this case: a modified list of sociologist Arthur Aron’s questions designed to accelerate intimacy and, perhaps, love between the questioner and respondent. Of all poker’s interviewer personalities, Scott is the most polished and professional, and as such very personable and impressive but always at a distance. Her enthusiasm is never turned down but one doesn’t really get the feeling one knows her at all: she is impeccable, a quality which is the ultimate defense.

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However, while this gives her far more dignity than most in the industry, it isn’t always an asset. While asking Chris Moorman the supposedly probing questions Aron’s team settled on, she tries to encourage him by answering the questions herself, but her answers are so canned they are meaningless. She’d like to “understand all languages” and know if “there is intelligent life on other planets”; well, who wouldn’t? Travel is wonderful, but people lose their sense of belonging. Different cultures use different expressions. Loyalty is important in friendships. People from different countries have differences – but also similarities. Both Chris and Kara keep telling us the questions are interesting. Just when I’m ready to give up, Kara tells her story of a real version of the “male gaze,” which is compelling and explains much. Then, more: “Better to be the bullied than the bully.” Well that’s worth talking about – while apparently even Aron can’t make Moorman interesting, Kara’s work in trying has fleshed out the debonair hostess.

[5/2021] Checked out the latest with Ali Nejad, and Kara’s structure performs the miracle it is supposed to, getting a great and moving story from someone who otherwise consistently presents as a fool. The light approach to his life now contextualized, the listener really does find what Aron was reaching for. The Ebony pod is good, too, if gentle. Patrick Leonard is a good show; I like Kara trying to control her nervousness as he starts to babble about reality and simulation, a peculiar bugaboo of our age and a sign she’s gotten to him and his foibles; really, this podcast seems significantly improved with trial and error and Kara relaxing a bit. Despite the continuing inanity of some of the questions, and a too-slow climax to the more interesting queries, I’m moving this into the top ten, at least for now, or until she says ‘Fomo’ again.

[2022] HOP gets through the GPI process. [3/2022] Kara really needs to consider skipping the preliminaries and get to the good questions, most of these guys just aren’t “fascinating,” as her promo filler contends: the rule of opposites in effect. In awkward new episode, Benny repeatedly can’t think of anything interesting to say while Kara affirms him maternally and unhelpfully. Eventually, the heavier questions score, but the overall effect is of an inquiry into bourgeois happiness. Poker is dead, just not in the way they mean. J. Van Fleet interview delivers nicely: this is a sweet and well-intentioned podcast overall. As 2022 closes, many good guest choices here. In the Jaman episode, Kara is at her polar best and worst, still inaccessible, remote, and unaware at heart – she says Jaman’s vlog is “influential” when in fact no one duplicates what he does, what she means is “popular” but is stuck in newscaster mode. She says the poker community is both “big” and “small” without any irony. Over to you, Jeff. Yet her smooth performance and overall excellence is what counts – it would be better if she was in a more prestigious platform than shilling for 888. She is a pro. [5/23] The method doesn’t get much of interest out of Bonomo, somehow, other than some observations on feminism and dating; the suicide ideation details are elided into “helpline” talk. FFS.

In July 2023, Kara meets a real challenge for her and Aron’s hypothesis: can she make Johnny “Vibes” likeable? Calling her a “vocal prominent person” and spilling a bunch of blubber about “passion” – the insincere always struggle to sound human – Johnny starts rough, but the magic of Aron and Kara’s approach eventually do serve their purpose.

[1/24] Kara has announced the end of the podcast, one of poker’s best, which will leave up for a time in honor of her good work. Rating: One eyeball

House of Cards

Vegas gambling info with very little poker. Nice title, though.

No Gamble

Sports betting.

The PG Pod

This new, charmingly named pod (really more of a diversion from more standard youtube strategy tidbit clips) from Phil Galfond continues the trend of big-name players opening pods as well as the trend of pods overlapping with vlogs to the point of indistinguishability. [11/23] Barely exists as a pod but his other content is active.

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Phil meets but does not exceed expectations in the first episode, having his typical earnest talk but essentially unable to make much of the incredibly straightforward Henry Kilbane. Lots of earnest questions and answers that everyone has heard a thousand times. In the second, this problem is solved when he takes on the far more interesting “Rachel Lees” Twitter account user. “Rachel” has created something of a following in the poker world through his significant business and tech industry acumen, intriguing opinions on the game, and an about-to-burst sensitivity; among other things, he wrote a deranged sixteen-page screed about one poker player who had displeased him in a Twitter spat, while successfully conning enough pokertwits that the real problem is the “faceless” accounts that disagreed with his faceless account. At one point “Rachel” asks to be “given a pass” for his angrier outbursts because he may have been “triggered” by your “piece of shit” behavior. Hello? Bueller? Phil? Anyone hearing this? Mr. Galfond, bless his heart, just has nothing to say: it would have been some very good pod content if he had interrogated the flimsy persona instead of just nodding along while a modulated, anonymous voice issues his alternating deranged proclamations and powerful insights in Penguin or Joker villain fashion. While “Rachel” uses Twitter, in one sense, correctly and understands general strategic thinking and gamefication better than anyone, he has overlooked a humbler truth which is far more important in poker: your name and your word matter to an unusual degree. Rachel, by his own doing, has neither, leaving him underappreciated and prone to ugly rants. Phil, on the other hand, is one of our greatest assets, a hero in a city of low-lives, but his podcast demonstrates that not everyone is good at everything, and that not every Bruce Wayne is a Batman. [5/23] Nothing new, just short Youtube bits. Rating: Safe for all ages.

Playing High Stakes Poker

New to 2023, host Ryan seems to be centered around L.A., based on that heady, raspy and lazy west coast tenor; you can hear the smoking or steaming in it. Or maybe it’s just the first guest choices, yes, the Moneymaker is in town. You also hear genuine excitement to talk to upper stakes players. Let’s hope he is something of local, really: we need more specific interests and knowledge in a crowded podcast field. [3/24] No episodes in six months, might be done.

People Who Read People

Not on poker but the host is tells researcher Zachary Elwood. While I risk getting off topic, it’s a strong if unnecessarily partisan podcast (Elwood is an amusing center-left scold transitioning from poker to punditry) that will interest the curious despite not being the usual self-help or sports or finance lateral that poker players generally slide along into. [9/20] New podcast with Antifa apologist is excellent, and points to Elwood moving into more impressive territory. [2022] More condescending scolding over the Magats couched in the language of objectivity. Good show, good guests, all the ingredients are right but PWRP just won’t break out of its self-inflicted rut – when you know you are right, the world is frustratingly disobliging. Breaking out requires choosing a clearer, less restrained path of two conflicting passions. For Elwood, it’s got to be objectivity or ideology, not both. [11/2022] Elwood continues to find great guests and subjects but isn’t going to become top tier without a few changes to presentation. [8/23] Continues to only get better, many new strong episodes and a more savvy objectivity. Rating: TT

The Real Poker Girls of Las Vegas

Looked like a one and done in July 2023 but recently emerged once more.

Red Scare

Like People who Read People or David’s Ramblings, the connection to poker is faint but real. In this case, the hostesses are the mirror image of many of poker’s smarter participants. They share, to creepy details, the kind of impossible self-interest of poker players, their outward cynicism and inward sentimentality. Las Vegas comes up not only as Dasha’s orgin, but “as the lens America should be looked through,” in a rephrase of another keen observation. Their constant sex realism with a feminine coloring fits hand in glove with poker culture biological materialism; their fatigued and self-hating worship of capitalism is brought alive in poker, the great American celebration of the free-ish market. These are the hoes you are looking for. Rating: AQs

Texas Poker Podcast

Mild-mannered hosts Clint and Tyler provide timely coverage of the exploding Lone Star scene. Looks like this one has legs, too. [5/23] Looks hand review and strategy-heavier of late. [8/23] Unlike its twin Texas pod, this one is firing on all cylinders. [3/24] Following a new year’s goals episode, no signal.

When the Chips Are Down

Andrew and Scott and Joe and Willy have awkward conversations on their poker lives. Andrew needs to chill on the weed – or is that phrased backwardly? Joe’s high stakes hands and culture observations are their most interesting content. [5/23] This one is surviving. [8/23] Just when I think they are going somewhere, they disappear. [9/23] Back again…? [3/24] Kind of a wild card podcast with a lot of upside but looking abandoned of late.

You Can Bet on That

Long-standing gambling pod with some poker. Good hosts, well-produced, and still very active as of 3/24.

 

Retired and Inactive Poker Podcasts

Reid ’em and Weep

2022 effort by returning player now in the northern Cali scene.

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While the pod sounds promising, the stock photo logo of a tourney ass trying to toss his aces off the table advertises more median fare. however, a quick first listen reveals a clear-voiced, energetic host with a tournament background and big potential for a good pod. He’s a family man now and grinding cash. Seems like a good pod for live cash players wanting some company in their sordid, passionate pursuit. [3/2022] Douche chills when Reid calls his opponent “competent,” one of the great egomaniacal cop-outs poker players love. Very short, energetically pedantic pods, as if he is a parent used to having no time or influenced by vlogs rather than pods. Because of this, we don’t really get to know Sammy, though I suspect this will change if he keeps the content up. We, we, we: Sammy bombards us with forum patter; poker has a pronoun problem. Humorously, when Sammy gets upset, it’s not fuck us. No, leading turn after calling the flop bet as your range equity declines does not make any sense; fuck someone, anyway. In episode three Sammy explains his strategy is derived from his strategy before muddling isolation and polarization, which of course, are overlapping magisteria. “We don’t deal in absolutes in poker,” he explains, right after telling us a bet would fold out someone’s “entire range” (and of course, it doesn’t): Sammy is funny in his messy enthusiasm. Great bluff story. [7/2022] Continuous improvement from a likeable host, this one is going to grow. [11/2022] To my surprise, Reid is still at it, with more enthusiasm than ever. Maybe the extra-short (for a pod) formula is good in a Tik-Tok world, and certainly the cheery-cum-Reading Rainbow synth add to the experience. “Allow myself to congratulate myself,” the English language can’t contain Sammy’s excitement, which even covers up his lack of empathy for others: Sammy is a true child of the game. [5/23] Still going strong, proof that passion matters – this is a good podcast for younger listeners and the strategy minded. [7/23] WSOP reviews up next. Rating: 88

Heads Up For Rolls and the GPI-THM series

This one seems to be one of several podcasts part of the Global Poker Index-Hendon Mob pod effort. Mostly done but apparently resurfaces each year for the GPI awards.

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In one Heads Up For Rolls, Brad Owen’s piggybacking of vlog pioneer Andrew Neeme reaches its apotheosis in an exhausted-by-success revue, hosted by Roland Boothby, marketeer for the irreplaceable live tournament resource Hendon Mob. Boothby also delivers James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton, in case that was a concern. I haven’t checked out all the pods in this consortium, but they include First Flag with laringitical poker insider “Eric” (it’s not made clear to the listener who this is or what a flag is, but possibly a Hendon Mob thing), GPInterview, and an ambiguously titled The Poker Show, also hosted by Roland; calling it A Poker Show would be both more funny and more accurate. On the Jeff Platt episode, we get a recommendation for the best buffet in Las Vegas, a concern for which many Americans have a disturbing passion. Long story short, it’s all a bit of a marketing mess in already crowded space, but it just doesn’t matter when there is some person out there for everyone and everything: most of this series is for tournament players. Incidentally, ever-sunny Platt pitches his upcoming new podcast “No Gamble No Future,” a phrase which officially jumps the shark on that day. [12/2021] Try to give the latest Poker Show episode a shot but basically as sonically unlistenable and disorganized as their Gypsum labelling suggests, I guess this is a show for insiders and tournament moles who have evolved beyond more mundane poker daylight concerns. Eric continues to be the man in poker most in need of a cough drop. [3/2022] Check out the Poker Show again, seems like lots of MTT chatter, so more important for that crowd. As the year moves on, they change the name of one of the shows? It’s all a little confusing. The link goes nowhere, the name is unpronounceable: these are the guys in charge of the GPI awards, naturally. Rating: 99 vs J10

The Doug Polk Podcast

The return [2021] of the mostly esteemed Doug Polk obviates many interview podcasts. He’s one of the biggest names in poker, someone who understands both the theory and execution of the game, and can get any guest he likes.

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I’ve featured the Apple podcasts link, but this is also a video channel on Youtube. His odd couple friendship with Phil Hellmuth is good listening; really, anything this guy does is good, it seems, even if he rubs some the wrong way here and there. Expect Doug to dominate the poker show market, for whatever that’s worth. [1/2022] His purchase of a card house in Austin with the twins will have an interesting effect on his show, I’d imagine. He’s miffed at being passed over by the GPI for awards, but really, his timing is a bit off and he’s actually too much of a thing for the award: you don’t reward the big dog for barking loudest. [3/2022] In listening to the latest episode, it remains striking how the mass audience hivemind reaction gets essentially everything wrong – imagine thinking you should rely on them for more important issues. Polk is brazen but almost uncomfortably objective; even Berkey, armed with a very high intelligence, misses this when complaining that Doug is too “critical.” This unusual quality of clarity must have helped Polk, who can otherwise present as just another dipshit bro, see the matrix of poker strategy itself, a matrix that is hidden in plain sight from the noxious and combative community overall. Still, he has his vendettas and preferences – think of his goofy attacks here and there, including the embarrassing whining about Berkey breaking a high stakes game – as the top twenty saga reveals, blurring the lens. [6/22] I’m lowering the score just on principle as he now has to defend whatever coin scammery he is unfortunately involved in after high-roading everyone to death forever. Still, if you bought in, you’re just as responsible. Brane Fuel your way out of that. [5/23] I’ve commented on Doug’s blow-up with Charlie, Fernando and the rest in other spots. No matter what you say or think, he remains a fixture and a smart poker and poker culture commentator. Not everyone can be nice.

[3/24] Quiet for a long time, but no way Doug can stay that way. Rating: AJo

Poker Punx

New in 2023, I think is related to an East Coast/PA/NJ blog. As is usual, the rule of opposites in effect: our podcaster sounds like a nice dad-type who wants to talk quietly about some hands. I personally like hearing about the Borgata games, AC’s main show and a key spot for the scene as a whole. [11/23] After a fast start, no episodes in a few months.

[3/24] After fast start, could be done.

Beyond Poker

More of the exceptional Nick Howard. However, there are few real exceptions, and naturally, everything is best understood by assuming an assertion means its opposite. For all the esoteric analysis the tree-housed guru provides, this podcast often has little to do with business or entrepreneurship. Instead, it is more of a showpiece for an alien mind attempting to “map out” the “game tree” of social interaction and personal development. The regrettable general intellectual interests of poker players, who fetishize a sort of self-help materialism and think DFW is a solver app, is peaking right now alongside with the GTO revolution; it’s not a coincidence. Aside from the general approach, Nick’s assertive personality, usually cramped behind the jargon of objectivity, is sparked by Kristy Arnett in episode 11, where we can hear him lean in emotionally and paternally. Once she mentions her husband, his voice rises and he is now a friend: what we are really talking about is never what we are talking about. Lots of short episodes for the short of attention. [11/2021 no episodes for several months] 2022, looks done. [5/23] Resurrected out of the blue in 2023, but with an asterisk – it is really a member’s podcast who is already reviewed here. When he is booted from the academy, Nick starts adding more and more clips and speeches he’s already made. Really this podcast is becoming distilled to a purer level of advertizing for Detox. Fair enough.

[3/24] Possibly done but worth checking out for the poker strategy and Howard’s brain. Rating: 75dd

Average Joe’s Poker

Fun new pod in 2023. After a rough technical start in episode 1, Dylan Parsons rambles passionately about the game he loves. He’s the low stakes shitreg with the Heineken at your table, the guy with more opinions than chips, his voice squeaking from an occasional indica hit. “They try to get under your head,” he tells us in malaprop English. Hopefully he keeps his energy up, because it’s a long road ahead, with three (now four) subs and a dream. [5/23] Months later, two new subs! GL out there, it’s rough. [8/23] Up to six. [3/24] Alas, Joe seems to be giving up.

Cracking Aces

This podcast features poker’s new odd couple, staid pro Jake Toole and manic amateur “Barstool” Nate. (Apparently there are Barstool fans and Barstool is something that might have unions and “poker players love barstool”; it’s all very unclear.) Jake tries haplessly to keep Nate on track, but basically “Barstool” spins freely, unleashing whatever is in his head, including every poker term he’s ever heard in a humorous string of light cringe across episodes. In the key chapter so far, entitled Poker 101: How To Get Better at Poker, the two start by being unable to even agree on the subject matter; basically this is comedy.

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The theme turns when Jake finds himself unable to quite describe how to, in fact, get better, all while Nate bombards him with his all-you-can-eat-spaghetti-night of ideas. Toole isn’t just stymied at what a beginner should do, first contradicting himself over the usefulness of a famous poker book: he really is at something of a loss at how to describe the nature of the game and its fundamental incentives, eventually punting their imaginary beginner over to Upswing or Run It Once (the latter being a disaster for the novice. One for two, if the Barstool fans are counting.) The winding conversation demonstrates how the ability to describe how the game works beyond the mere mechanics of what most winning players employ by rote is a genuinely tall order. No wonder so many are lost (and no wonder there are so many of these damn poker podcasts). In true comic fashion, and having long since forgotten the listener questions they were supposed to answer, beginner Nate provides an answer they can agree on: start somewhere, anywhere. An enjoyable listen with a big future, but I’d still slip Nate his meds every now and then, if I were Jake. [2/2021] Might be dead, no shows since 2020.

[9/2021] Looks like they resumed this summer, and with more hosts. [3/2022] Check them out again for the sake of hearing Gman, not very inspiring. Cliches about Ethan’s “heart” are more than stupid – what Rampage has is serious grey money from raking dunces in club games that he vanity spews with ridiculous tournament lines to awe the hicks. He’s a businessman and a brand, but all we get is fanboy hype here. If it wasn’t for Barstool Corp sponsorship, this would be a forgotten pod; instead it lives on the guests the big name attracts. “But like, like, like, uhhh, like…” Then they stumble through the interview. They don’t even manage to clean up the sound; I’m embarrassed for them. Good guest(s) though. Next episode features high price corporate sponsorship, cold open conversation on basketball, more audio incompetence, and sloppy intro of guest Zach Elwood. These clowns just don’t give a fuck but apparently some drooler demographic is out there is, like, downloading heaps. This is why democracy doesn’t work. Again, great guests: Zach is full of interesting information and dialogues well. What’s odd is it would take very little work to make this a top ten podcast, given they have all the ingredients, but I don’t think they have the interest. Curious. [7/2022] On-site coverage of the boys’ WSOP. [11/2022] Impressive rate of podcasting continues looks like they are committed and doing better work. [5/23] A lineup change again? I hear things continue to get better. [8/23] Packed with ads, apparently people listen to this garbage even while they publicly muse about what they’d rather be doing than podcasting. Clowns.

[3/24] All that audience going to waste again. Barstool needs to find a solid podcasting team. Rating: 23o

The Bernard Lee Poker Show

is bare-bones, unironic, hardcore dedication to the tournament scene – this isn’t for everyone but is a big part of the moveable feast that is the poker circuit.

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Bernard joined his podcast with PokerNews in 2018, allowing him significant visibility. Bernard is clear-voiced and organized.  Bernard’s poker podcasts follow a similar but natural story-line, where he hypes wins and prize-pools and money and prestige, and only by the end does he get into any strategy or nuance or issues. If you are deeply immersed in the tournament scene, or can get through the opens, you will find good content, as Bernard eventually elicits opinions from serious players in the games on key subjects. Such a perfect platform, with a strong and competent history thanks to its knowledgeable host, could use a formatting upgrade: sometimes hidden gems just need to be polished. [2/2021] Bernard seems to be out at Pokernews, and now with Cardplayer Lifestyle. [11/2021] Nearing 2000 episodes, Bernard deserves recognition for his poker journalism, along with Ante Up. [3/2022] Catch up with the Jeff Platt episode, Bernard really blabbering on here more than I remember him being prone, gotta let that guest speak. Maybe this is how the evenly matched dominate each other. Interview with Phil is solid, time to give Bernard his due and move him back to the top ten for a [3/2022] bit. Next, complete dedication to Women’s History Month. [7/2022] Nothing will keep Bernard and his pace of pods with big names down. One of the best podcasts overall and a top ten contender. [5/23] Sixteenth anniversary of a solid podcast that remains underappreciated.

12/2023, no content since summer. Done after 16 years? We’ll leave it here out of respect, for now.

Seems done. Ave.

Rating: QJs.

SLC Rounders

Yes, a podcast dedicated to Salt Lake City poker, which host Dean assures is busy. {11/23] Looks done.

Go Gamble

The original vlogger curiously moves into the less exciting and less prosperous podcast space. Everything with Tim is deliberately aggressive, from the unappealing name of his website and this podcast, to his ruffian persona and all the yelling and all the complaining. However, he’s really a sensitive and decent fellow, maybe his opinions and stories in this format will appeal. He has a lot of scores to settle, and it’s no surprise episode one starts with that. [12/2022] Already twelve episodes in, the Trooper brings the energy and has settled into his new medium. [11/23] Slowing down, could be done.

Full Deck Poker

[No longer] sponsored by Detox, “Kremepuff” gives us the inside scoop on how the coaching for profits goes. Extremely short episodes, not sure if it is released as a podcast beyond Youtube. [5/23] Tied and rebroadcast with the Detox podcast, Beyond Poker. [8/23] Cut loose from Detox, Kremepuff now maps a more treacherous way forward, which promises his best content to come. No longer a Youtube video, but a pure podcast.

The Swedest Deal

The Swede is Ricard Aberg, a long-time poker industry media guy, and the sweet is the friendly approach to talking about poker with his friends. A little too boring on the whole but if you want yet another light interview with your fav, here’s another chat pod. If Ricard would use his endless connections in a more interesting way, this could be a dark horse candidate for the top ten. [8/23] Nothing since May, going nowhere despite all the gifts and connections: passion fades.

The Royally Flushed

2023 podcast promises home game talk. [8/23] One hitter quitter, looks like.

The Robin Poker Podcast

GG poker sponsored streamer stuff. In the callmelija episode we spend five minutes getting her name down. You’ll probably have to be involved in GG to care about this one. He does get the BBZ guy on, a strong interview catch. [11/2022] Channel looks active, pod does not. [8/23] We’ll just leave it up, occasionally he does an interview.

Raising the Nuts

I believe this one morphed out of Trevor Savage’s fun vlog, which featured the memorable “all hands challenge” and was briefly a hit thanks to some creative family involvement. As a skilled player, he’s worth listening to (he shined on Poker Out Loud), but I think much of this has moved away from poker and from humor, and toward life (especially family) advice. Features the “Jody Thinks” segment. I’ve never really gotten much from this apparently increasingly voluminous side of the “Nuts” media offering, but they seem to have a happy niche audience, and get heavy recommendations from the “Sessions” community. The now forgotten ideal of social media creating happy small communities reaching beyond mere locality seems to be in play here. [8/2022] A fourth “season” starts and some changes are in order, but what’s strange here is that it’s Trevor’s poker expertise that is interesting yet continues to be buried in favor of family time. Trevor, for all his skills in the game, lacks the charismatic presence of the dominating media character, such as Billy or Doug or whoever; RtN is really a podcast for friends and family. [3/23] Now with a fun “anything but bad news” segment. Still a good pod for families and relationships. Rating: Any two

Rachel Lees Thinks

The notorious horsefly re-emerges again, this time with audio. A bright mind often overruled by negative and unsocial passions, “Rachel” offers a lesson in how and how not to behave online. Of late, some of his identitarian friends turned on him, as the new Maoists always do, and he has thus lost some clout. However, this is, of course, his most sympathetic moment. “Consuming what I say will sometimes taste like chewing on a Tylenol tablet,” he tells us. A worthy thought. The question is, will it be his Dr. Jekyl genius or his Mr. Hyde malignance that we will hear from? Is the medicine worth the bitter taste? [8/23] Nothing for a long time.

Prepare Perform

Martin Jacobson’s coaching site. He starts with long interview with Chris Moorman. For tourney players. [7/2022] Looks like this is not going anywhere but Martin does do Youtube strat stuff. [11/2022] Martin does find another interview, this time with ole LuckyChewy. Do we ever get to leave our stupid screen names behind? [5/23] May be done. [11/23] Another half-assed effort goes down.

Poker Genius

Mental game (read) life coaching short form stuff from Dr. Stephen Simpson. Sales platform. “Much of Dr. Simpson’s work centers on the principles of neuro linguistic programming (NLP), meditation, heartmath, his reptile relaxation technique, bioresonance and other energy therapies, and leans heavily on the application to real life of the transformational Jungian concepts of synchronicity and the collective unconscious.” The desire to be great will allow you to believe anything. Jung, genius that he was, might not appreciate this use of his ideas, but then, I’m not much more informed than most on that enigma. Today, many leftists mock Jordan Peterson for his Jungian models, misunderstanding theories of personal growth and how mythology works with psychology in their kindergarten quest to share the crayons, so I guess if I can give Peterson the benefit of a little learning and a little doubt, I can do it for Simpson. That said, Simpson relegates his contribution to promotion and offers little here beyond some comforting cliches. (The doctor even promotes schizophrenically rude sales monkey PH’s book on positivity. It is repulsive to be told how much you should believe in yourself while shitting on others as your corollary prerogative.) Exactly the placebo you may have been searching for. [5/23] Looks over, mercifully Rating: mental

The Overbet Podcast with Henry Kilbane

New to 2021, we can expect in depth interviews with poker elephants from Mr. Kilbane. He’s fond of overly long questions that eat up time but it’s forgivable as he’s clearly trying very hard to scratch more than the surface.

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[2022] Looks like one podcast might be too much for Henry, nothing since episode one. He got public attention and stroking from Matt Berkey, which is more than most sorry podcasters get, so I guess FTG. [2/2022] Well, speak of the devil and he appears. Back in action, we’ll leave this pod as active for now. Getting through the Berkey baseball story for the umpteenth time, it occurs to me that you should listen when people tell them who you are, and Berkey, who I have thought of mainly as an interesting poker player, is really a dispirited baseball player trapped in gambling. Really, though, the point is Henry doesn’t know or care that Matt has been asked this stuff a million times. You should rarely listen to people who don’t know their own medium. [7/2022] A third episode finally appears, this time with a less known mindset coach. Not much of interest, it’s really not clear why this podcast was so hyped. Henry is a cordial bloke, I suppose, and has a strong pre-existing following. Tons of potential here, but work to do to make this a top ten pod, however.

Listening to the latest with CRAIbaby, I go through a cycle of thoughts, first thinking I finally understand the appeal: this is more of a Sunday afternoon chitchat with the bros in the circle, captured as a pod, than a more probing interview like the Grid or Thinking Poker. Yes, a lot of thoughts everyone has heard before, but we get to hear them from winners in the field at a comfortable pace; Henry’s High Tea with Poker Players. Fair enough. There’s ridiculous background noises on this episode, however, like someone is slam-dunking a toaster, but Henry and his guest say nothing about it – how does this get released like this? At one point Henry asks Wey Xie how he separates the quality info from the noise, and on cue someone stuffs the toaster right into the net. Two points for symmetry! Henry: “if you focus first on fundamentals, you can then move to advanced [stuff.]” Ah.  A real mix here: great life management advice is the highlight.

However, listening to this stuff for too long is like chewing on a deflavored piece of gum. The world is on fire figuratively and literally, space is ripe for exploration, global conflict is coming, and these high-stakes sun-runners are worried about their sleep quality, self-sabotage, and how to copy other people more effectively. That’s when I realize this pod and others that take this hushed, serious tone to trading bromides on life back and forth aren’t casual chats, but more like naturally developing struggle sessions for the New Epicureans, who differentiate themselves from the old ones by not being lushes but instead luxuriating in themselves. It’s a fine life, sort of. What’s disappointing about it and about our betters in poker, is that these young, good-looking, healthy, capable geniuses who have it all and reteach the game to us, is their remarkable triviality, and what’s more, their very seriousness about this triviality. This focus and promotion of a life of self-benefit and easy mercantile skimmery is disappointing, but now a major feature of poker culture. These are the kind of people who find everything from mates to meditation through an app: we see the plain connection of life to social media avatarage. [11/2022] Nothing since July. I keep checking, given how everyone keeps praising him inexplicably, but even his straight-man streaming commentary is middle brow, uninspired, and beholden to every cliche: “Interesting spot.” “Casual million.” “Limping is pimping.”  The yawning is crowning. [5/23] Nothing for a while, looks finished but I’ll leave it up for a while because he is so present in the industry. [8/23] Looks over but the reality is he’ll bring in some poker celeb soon for another marathon yawner when the “skej” lines up. [11/23] Dead after four episodes and endless, unearned praise. Rating: Standard, bro.

Table Talk/On the Road with Poker Listings

Jack Oliver leads a new Eurotourno chat show. Strong start and [5/23] still going, to my surprise. Episode one is mysteriously pulled; could be because now the host is Cameron Dhaliwal and the name is changed. Maybe everything is changed. Anyway. [7/2023] Six episodes under their belt.

Hellworld/PokerandPolitics

Another stretch, as I’m not hearing much poker, just a lot of soyjoy giggling centrist political whining from Arizona. These people say “nothingburger” with fey conviction. Take things more seriously by understanding your people, fix the sound, expose yourself to the interesting world of the felt, and maybe you have something. On the other hand, people who think they live in a “dystopia” or a “hellscape” are always the worst, so I’m not hopeful. [5/23] Seem to have given up any pretensions to poker content, but I’ll leave it here for now as they have a robust output of content. [11/23] still active but no longer any poker coverage, just rabid complaining.

Hello It’s Lynne

I’m not sure how likely this one is to last, given how little she puts into her videos (they are all produced by someone else), but now the social aspirant and pics-for-stakes hottie herself wants in on the staider podcast scene.

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I’m not sure she’s released it as a true podcast – i.e. without video and optimized for such – but is already parceling it out for Youtube “engagement.” Lynne starts with Berkey, whose story has been told so often he is becoming, against all expectations, a sort of minor Phil Hellmuth, an overexposed lifestyle cheerleader as much as he is a powerful advocate for a more ethical poker industry. For her first show she arrives in Meghan Markle comfort garb and the questions are about as cozy. Her skill as an interviewer is revealed to be her speed and agreeableness – she could take this a long way. However, will she add any insight or interest to add to conversations when they are not about her enjoying be young? When she confronts her “worst fear” the words come out as if she has never thought about the future, and she immediately moves onto “your favorite purchase.” Now she’s on her turf; apparently, she desires a jacket which tracks everything about her day, including how “my skin is doing”: reality is always more ridiculous than fiction. When she goes over Berkey’s writing, which he essentially abandoned in 2018, we are reminded of just how out of touch the average influencer is with basically everything, but that their paradigm is to find people for interviews who will bring them back to reality as a kind of public performance piece. Berkey does just this and more, rescuing the conversation at the end with some heavy memories – can Lynne repeat this seeking without him? They seem intimate, which makes this first time easier, but can she repeat the performance with people she knows less? Stronger interview with Dylan Weisman – good start so far. [8/23] Nothing since March – fooled me again. She’ll come up with a new project and redeploy soon. [11/23] Basically finished.

Gamblers

As titled. Some poker players covered.

Embrace the Grind

It’s a bit of a puzzle why Johnny “Vibes” is doing this until it’s clear it is a Youtube product. Lasted most of 2021, now back. Johnnie has a voice for print but has made a name for himself though the visual medium of vlogging, which he excelled at. Podcasting is a little harder as he has to keep the interest through ideas and conversations. He’s a bit of an acquired taste with a definitely mixed reputation but he is such a typical poker bro he can’t really be ignored if you want to understand the scene. He can be very honest and a salesman, too. I’ve never heard him say anything interesting or insightful, but I think that is part of the appeal: he is poker the way Phil Hellmuth is poker. He even bought an Ape NFT and earnestly describes believing in the “project.” It’s not really stupidity, just a kind of deep, abiding belief in and connection to whatever is popular, whatever is hip, whatever is the vibe. Season two begins with a talk with his brother Andrew, a tournament star. Johnnie bumbles his way through a Lynn Gilmartin chat to end the year, but her enthusiasm makes up for his limp-fish approach. [11/23] Apparently done but has been rejuventated before. Rating: J7s

Fade the Mahoney

Skipped over this one as it was pitched as more of a gambling pod in mission, but the reality is lots of poker content and good hosts. Too new to me to judge, but they did get the abundantly talented Matt Kiefer of Slow Poker vlog fame who gives us some regrettable hivemind opinions on Paul Schrader in addition to the usual background. FTM also manages to pull the word for word least interesting man in poker, David Tuchman – so a couple fairly big names so far. Promising and under the radar.  (Several more sports and table games gambling pods out there, I could create another subset of podcasts in future, but it’s not my specialty.) Irieguy episode is poker heavy and has a fun high stakes story.

The Texas Poker Experience

Texas poker exploding means more media too. Craig Cyr and Caitlin Comeskey. Hard to say if it continues with Caitlin now big in the industry and busy with Aceholes, reviewed above. [8/23] We’re calling it, Caitlin is busy.

Relearning Poker

New pod with Jordan Cooper sounds promising. In a first episode, Jordan leans into his east coast caricature and rants about everything. “NBA DFS cans suck my dick.” LFG? Not sure an hour and half of this dude ranting is bearable, but he is a fresh voice of the novice. He never stops, I look up and he’s still ranting long after he causes my mind to wonder. And as for your question, I presume you suck no matter what. Are you still talking? [5/23] After four episodes, looks cooked. Rating: GL

Pokerfuse

Comes back to life for a PS interview in late 2022, and with that, disappears again. My guess is that it is a default podcast for certain guests so I’ll leave it up for now.

Under the Gun

As Abe Limon once pointed out, Dave Tuchman is wrong about everything. Still, this happy, ubiquitous blabbermouth who can’t stop talking about himself makes reliably upbeat and feisty content. It’s sports and sports-bet heavy listening. Tuchman is blessed in every way, always at the center of the poker universe, and just generally a decent sort. True, he’s slowly forgotten the whole premise was having a guest “under the gun,” but for David, it was never about them anyway. Is it just me or have his awful “aahhhhhmmmmmmm” disappeared? Nice. To hate Dave is to love him, I suppose. Endless content. [11/2022] No content for six months, I find it hard to believe Dave would give up his easiest way to be heard. Expect a return. [5/23] Really is done? Rating: Two pints

Two Lives

Olivier Busquet’s poker podcast will likely become one of the most popular poker podcasts if he follows through – never an easy thing to do. [3/20] Olivier has not been too busy, with a total of only four episodes across as many months, but has brought in some noted fellow tournament elephants. I also change the link away from Spotify, which has some functionality issues, and to Olivier’s actual web page for the pod. It’s very clean and simple, which is a nice touch, and proceed to listen to the Colman episode. Busquet sounds earnest and compelling as a host. The sound/tech situation is excellent. If you like hearing about high stakes tournament stars, this pod belongs on your play list. No dates on the pods is amateur hour stuff. [3/2022] See The Grid for some further comments; so far this is a good podcast but clearly not living up to the announcements and praise. The more I listen, the more I appreciate regularity and volume and commitment. Still, solid enough. [11/2022] With no episodes in six months, the slick website and pompous presentation overpromise. Is it done? Hard to know or care. Rating: TKO

Stealing them Blinds

Dell and BJ appear to be School of Cards acolytes who want to talk strategy. These podcasts are short – less than thirty minutes – and focus on a single theme. For low-stakes players, this could be a way forward. Can’t agree with everything they say but I think the point is the friendly hosts and their conversation moving the ball. A later episode on whether to become a “professional” or not is simple and honest. [7/2022] Checking in, they are still pounding out episodes, the latest on the macro concept of reciprocality. Later in the year, interview with popular vlogger Pokerface Ash, a good find, but the real surprise is that the hosts have somehow changed, with BJ gone. [12/2022] New name and uncertain future, Dell realizing how much his former co-host did. Podcasting is highly competitive, what will Dell do to separate himself from the pack? [5/23] Feels like it’s over. Good run. Rating: small and big

The River

Industry vets Chris “Fox” Wallace and Amanda Botfeld kick off a news commentary pod for second tier forum CardsChat in late 2022. A quick listen reveals this to be the MSNBC of poker news casts, with moderate, not particuliarly informed, almost pandering takes for the poker suburbs. At one point the very un-feral Fox praises influencer Ebony for her commitment to the ‘hashtag positivity’ bit – you can’t make this stuff up because you don’t want to. Amanda seems a little sharper, bringing up a nice analogy on the Nagy stuff. The strength and potential of the pod is the difference in age and sex between the hosts, which should provide some perspective as they improve. [11/2022] Called a “Weekly” podcast, it’s already missed eight of them. Doesn’t look good, Fox.

Poker with Presence

Jason Su – with an interview on the Zoo Podcast – is a bit different than other mentalists. While Mason doesn’t approve, I think there is a little more to this one. Part of it is Jason’s serious poker background, which separates him from most of the field, but mainly he is very simple in his approach to putting players in a good head space. He’s also very active on Twitter and has the benefit of being a little more engaged and au currant. [5/23] Looks done but I know he is active in other areas so maybe has a different media project.

Multimedia Poker

Christian and Ricky, two Arizona players, talk poker with a local emphasis. Sounds promising, although Ricky kicks it off an explanation for their name that makes literally zero sense. In a way, that’s good, though, as he seems like he could be a funny host. [12/2022] After a fast start, are they done already? Looks like – they pull their content. We’ll leave them here for now, maybe they are restarting. As many pods as there are, that doesn’t mean everything is easy to do, certainly not well.

Invariance Poker

New in 2021, looks mental game and macro focused. Based in Texas, seeming a cardhouse flowering. Its odd title and confusingly numbered episodes are probably holding back interest a bit, but the host Than Ho seems determined to make a go of it, with at least eight episodes fairly quickly done. So far it seems he needs to let his guests talk more and there are serious sound imbalances. An interesting episode should be number four, with a Texas card club owner. Curiously, Than seems to be aiming for a staking operation focused on stream games and tournaments, but details are scarce. [1/2022] Than keeps firing episodes, impressively. [4/2022] Might be done, I wonder if that problematic staking op hope has something to do with it. [7/2022] After fast start, dead in the water. [11/2022] Back again with some interesting episodes. Most shows just die off – nice to see Than back at it. [5/23] Looks done, unfortunately.

Into the Fold

A (former) Texas Card House commentator, Greg Potter, decides to start a podcast and interview some fellow, better known industry insiders as a kind of job hunt – hence the title. Of minor interest, he tells the strange story of offending the apparently very sensitive TCH team by going on the Hustler. What’s most confusing is this “career” he feels he has in poker commentary – are these jobs so plentiful now? Who knew. Meanwhile, learn to edit. [7/2022] Disappearing already. [11/2022] On the fritz, nothing since June. [5/23] Looks done.

The Australian Poker Mindset

Probably not as funny as it sounds. Created by Brendan Rubie, a mental game coach. [3/2022] Started listening, sounds tournament focused. Good production, looks like a regional pod with legs, good on ya.

Aces Full of Food

New pod coming soon. [4/2022] Episode one starts off with homey not introducing himself, so we don’t get this homey’s name. Based on that and rest of the first three minutes, I should just turn it off now as this is clearly going to be very slow, but it’s a great idea, poker and food, so I’ll skip ahead hope to find something. Ten minutes in, it’s still halting backstory. Life is too short for this podcast, alas, hopefully Leo makes some improvements. [5/2022] Quickly more episodes. Leo seems energized. [6/2022] This is the Aces Full of Interminable Biographical Tedium. Where’s the beef, if not the damn food? Victim of high expectations, this pod. Still, Leo is likeable. Can he adjust and find his audience? [11/2022] Leo’s Pod and his Twitter are suddenly an empty plate: what’s going on?

Poker and Pills

Sounds biographical and only tangential to poker, will listen soon. [4/2022] throwaway orchestral/rock opening then a somnulent voice comes on to describes resting in his tourist cabana and falling in love with the game of poker again, thanks to a massive heater against some pros at Bellagio. Good for him, but what happens when the result is different? Good degen listening. Repeats himself a lot and lots of bro-style sexual marketplace advice. [11/2022] Sadly, this one is likely done.

901 Grindcast

New in 2022. Tournament, southern U.S. focused, as the 901 might refer to a Tennessee area code. [11/2022] Looks cooked. [12/2022] Looks cooked, nice little run.

Grindhaus Poker

[2021] Las Vegas centered live poker, seems tournament focused. Sounds like two young players sharing their grind. I start with episode twelve and they are investigating the possible uses of a sixth finger: ah, poker players. They are a little more energetic than the Blind Stealing duo, and seem like easier listening. Lots of real, low-key poker talk; I think this pod could become a personal favorite. Poker court jester Slayabides makes an appearance in one episode. [1/2022 after a pause, is strongly back] No episode in months but these guys don’t rate to do anything on a schedule. [11/2022] Could be finished, nothing in six months plus. Rating: Two dinner vouchers.

Zenith

[2021] Thomas Pinnock’s slowly but surely expanding, low-cost training community adds another component. It’s not really a podcast series yet and isn’t even separated by a playlist on Youtube, which seems to be its only outlet, but needs to be included here for the pure value of Thomas’s expertise. Pinnock has the natural advantage of being an articulate speaker with a clear voice. Could become great but too soon to tell; podcast two is certainly full of good advice. (I see my reviews are bleeding into videos but need to draw the lines somewhere.) [8/2021] Not sure if this is continuing, as Thomas pulled all content after a dispute with, well, everyone; after a few more months it resumes and has added several episodes. [2022] After a flurry of pods, another break, but I’m not convinced he’s done. Still, he may like math and instruction more than people – podcasts are not so much about being right.

The Seven Out Podcast

[added 6/20] Gambling and poker. Nice website. Vinny Chenz and “Big Joe” run the show. A hyper podcast with non-hyper hosts, with lots of drops and such. Poker players divide between table gaming types and non-table gamers, and if you’re the former, this is your show. [3/2022] On hiatus for now.

Pokerdeals

Pokerdeals is a relatively new example of a billion websites devoted to capturing affiliate deals and other link whore garbage. However, where there’s money, there’s often media, and they seem to have created this podcast [November 2021) to further the venture. I like the guest selection so far, and although the unnamed host often moronically laughs at things he shouldn’t, he’s pretty damn good at his task, a natural conversationalist. Poker culture fluff done breezily. Rating: J10o

GN Podcast

The crypto visionaries and NFT grifters at the top of Mt. MTT throw some scraps your way: winners win. First episode with first mover Mike McDonald, who turns out to have more of a Being There story than rumored. The more perspective we have, the more we realize that poker has a massive class component, and that the Moneymaker effect was really about middle-class money and ingenuity flooding a previously prole space: gentrification. I’m not going to bet, but at first I couldn’t see this one lasting too long: what’s the motivation, I wondered, when there is real money to be manipulated. Wait, I answered my own question. Next episode celebrates entrepreneur and poker player Daniel Weinand, member of the rising new merchant class, a set of anti-nationalist millennials who have mastered the current zeitgeist of commerce and ethics as materialism. He spends a great deal of time explaining the topography of comfort, including the troubles of being a collector – and ultimately maker – of objets d’art. The story of poker players, in this case Fedor, leveraging poker winnings into the business world is the now the classic path of poker’s one percent. It’s Weinand’s unencumbered pursuit of excellence and self-fulfillment that is really striking, not some imaginary advantage – being raised well is the ultimate privilege. Join the winners while you can – you can be sure they aren’t inhibited by your dumb ideas and limitations. [7/2022] On fumes already, of course. No money here, Fedor. [retired 11/2022]

Raise Your Edge

The best one in “edge” related programming. With Bencb, you get a legend of the industry who seems to take a fairly sober approach to his pod. If RYE continues, this could be one of the best insider poker podcasts for the tournament scene. [6/2021] Listened to the Charlie Carrel episode, which was terrific and revealed this pod to have a lot more strength than just tourney review. Rating: AQo.

Poker Action Line

Yet another tournament poker scene pod, this one from my home turf- do you think recreational players are beginning to like these things or what? Actually, this podcast has been around forever, and sounds like it’s syndicated: you know your podcast has made it when one of its sponsors is the U.S. government. (Yes, germs will in fact kill you, if our state’s citizens don’t first.) The usual numbers and hype, typically mixed in with short interviews where we learn, well, basically nothing. Given more time their guests, the pair warm up and do a much better job, as the recent Matt Savage section suggests. Big Dave (a writer for Ante Up and its “South Florida Poker Ambassador” – good to see relations existing between our country and other, healthier nations) and Joe Rodriguez are true gents; one of them forgives Shaun Deeb for being a shit because “he’s had a baby.” Joe occasionally sounds a bit like someone’s enforcer, adding a sort of amusing chill to everything he says. Overall, these classy guys handle their business and promote the healthy local scene. [3/2022] May be done. Rating: Q10o.

The Fives

A “Poker Headlines” show, very cleanly presented and usually kept to a conscientious under an hour run time. A lot of on-the-spot coverage, which is a nice touch among the poker podcasts which try to deliver news. If you are interested in keeping up with poker world events with a focus on tournaments, want the commentary to be on the succinct side while skipping the usual yuks, this might be the best one out there. Supermen poker writers Lance Bradley and Donnie Peters are predictably sharp. The Fives is especially good among poker podcasts around WSOP time, as they more than triple the coverage frequency. The longer episodes tend to lose significant steam. [2/2021] The guys get on the Doug Polk interview train, a little energized, but really, they sound a little tired of late. No one really wonders what Doug is going to do next, he’s just going to do it. Did any of the the dozen podcasters that landed him find one interesting question for the Supreme Leader? Well, these guys did get one in, impressive. [8/2021 suddenly drops off and out of the top ten] [1/2022 may be defunct after a very strong run] Rating: KQs.

One Outer

An intermittent pod resurrected every few months by Alex’s personal Siri, an occasionally irate, product-hawking kelpie. The Itunes podcast description states “One Outer interviews poker legends,” all of which are apparently named Alex Fitzgerald – possibly a good joke, who can tell. Either way, TheAssassinato is a long way off from the days of his interesting blog and dynamic tourney play, but even if the rainbow has ended, there’s probably plenty of gold still in the archive, nor should you ever doubt just how much such a player may have forgotten while still knowing more than you. CRAZY DISCOUNTS. [3/2022] Nothing in six months, likely done. Rating: One free webinar

The Runchuks Podcast

This one started in 2020, I believe, and is associated with the coaching business BluffTheSpot. [8/20/20] I listen to my first Runchuks, which turns out be a mild-mannered PLO coach who, as host, shares some of the same mission as Brad Wilson (seeking out poker greatness and its aspirants), in this case taking on curmudgeon Mason Malmuth and his new book on history via gambling theory. Runchuks looks, sounds, and presents with a bit more of a serious look at gaming and game theory – this is a genuine subject interest podcast, not a poker elephant co-promotion. Selected by 2+2 for its own thread in NVG, Runchuks comes out of nowhere to be one of the best poker podcasts current, and doesn’t categorize as easily as the variety shows or clear strat pods. [10/2021 paused and dropped from top ten] Rating: AA

Just Hands

aka “Poker Between Two Ferns,” is another high-quality strategy show, presented by Jack Laskey and new partner James. If you can wade through the stuffiness and fade the plodding speech rhythms, Just Hands is revealed to be quietly one of the most useful pods around for the low-stakes student of the game. There are many interesting guests and the emphasis on some lesser known players is invigorating. This is the podcast where Berkey originally explained his compelling, dangerous-to-himself-and-others style in complete detail, to the consternation of the bewildered hosts, who recovered from their confusion and showed their chops by being able to deconstruct it. Early episodes feature a lot of self-congratulation, which is trying, but perhaps the hosts’ skills earn it. In many ways it’s a higher level Poker Guys without the circus- for better and worse. [11/2021 slowing down, we may have reached the end] Rating: Two snare brushes.

The Solve For Why Vlogcast

Love him or hate him, right or wrong, Matt Berkey rises above the field because he is not a trivial man or the typical, resentful social media bottom-feeder, high on memes, weed, and pirated personality. Matt has a singular way of looking at poker that inspires those who like him and which often invigorates those who dislike him. With a talented set of equally off-path pros to spar with, including arm-waving weatherman Christian Soto and herb mesmerizer Nick Howard, the “vlogcast” – it is available on video, as many podcasts are – presents clean, lengthy, and interesting to the point of obscure takes on the scene, regardless of Matt’s latest preflop seppuku or the daily scourging of his detractors. There are a few downsides. The litany of productivity theories will eventually grow tiresome, as will the interminable auto-biographical twaddle. Sometimes things are best just being what they are: there is no truly masking or outwitting the time-eating tedium of the poker war, which, in its dangerously unproductive, amoral abstraction, relentlessly rewards the most present, silent minds who have turned briefly away from life’s greater joys; not necessarily the sympathetic but scatter-brained seeker types attracted to S4Y. In fact, it’s clear that Matt really wants this show to rise above the category of poker podcasts, and into the genre of life coaching. The “vlogcast” completed my voting in the GPI poker podcasts category. [8/2/2020] Berkey and Soto have continued to grow their product reach. Without Doug Polk, it’s probable that this podcast/vlogcast will be the premiere general poker show. [8/2021] Extended break, moved out of top ten. [1/2022] Berkey hints it may come back, so leaving it here for now. Rating: Five syllables

Beyond the Grind with Jnandez

Somehow missed this one in its heyday, but using “Grind” is SEO poor, counterintuitively, because of its overuse everywhere.

Carrot Poker

The mind wanders a bit while following the monotone patter of the very modest and pleasant Peter Clarke; nothing is every quite fair. Clarke is a self-deprecating and easy listen, tailored to the microedge pushing microgrinder, that funny creature so concerned with “leaks,” itself a funny term that anxious players use to imply that there is some caulking that would fix their otherwise perfect microstakes bathtub sailboat. Pray to the value god for guidance.

Clarke is undoubtedly good at this stuff, and I appreciate his honesty about what he is selling – I imagine him to be one of the good people in poker. He sounds worried for your rake payments, worried for your exact vpips, worried about the population, and all the ropes and riggings that you need to sail the stormy NL5-NL50 seas. After all, many a weekend warrior and lonely loser has drowned there – clearly his well-known book is venerated by its sailors for a reason. Clarke does tend to get caught up with “weaker” and “stronger” players who all follow the algorithm weakly or strongly, but it’s all so sweet and basic and well meaning, you can’t go wrong. The only technical thing I will comment on here is that Clarke is confused about why his students’ blue lines are good but they lack red line: it’s not that they are “good at getting value,” it’s that the population they play in is bad at decision making versus their frequencies, a subtle difference that only makes a difference long term. The nitty regs, in other words, attracted to training like this are accruing a sort of unearned value that paradoxically holds them back from bigger games – the feedback loops of poker are fiendish and kind of beautiful. We can understand this because the red line is what allows you to actually have a good blue line – these things are intertwined and not entirely “fixable” in the linear sense suggested, in other words.

I’m actually for once interested in a mental game episode, his latest, as such a reasonable person as Clarke might have some non-bs to say. It’s a good forty minutes, as expected, with an emphasis on recognition of the problem and the understanding of what the game is as the easiest solution.

What’s amusing, in the bigger picture, with these solid poker coaches and trainers who appear on poker podcasts is that they sort of give away the real news in between the lines. Clarke acknowledges that basically NL50 players have very little fight, yet all we hear is how tough the games are. A promising episode is “Modern 3b Ranges.” Now, I’m not sure what his ranges are, as we have to buy them, but I get a big hint when he recommends that 3b/f from the BU as the way forward – some of you will know what I am talking about. Another hint from a little video investigation shows the bottom of a 4b range being AK/QQ. On the pod, Clarke advises that “lighter 3 bets come from hands we might sometimes call,” and we’re supposed to use the RNG to bravely take a risk. “Slightly wider than GTO” is our final big hint. Yes, this is a “tornado” of pressure, he promises. Modern poker is often just as silly as the old stuff, but hey, you’re here. Rating: A10s.

No Gamble, No Future

Carnival Barker Brent Hanks and PokerGo standby Jeff Platt return to broadcasting but now look to the YouTube format to boost interest. [3/2021] With big names it looks like a successful show but I do not see a podcast-specific release, only Youtube. [11/2021] Looks like they are done and instead doing the WSOP show.

Pokerflops

This curiously titled show is new as of March 2020, run by Ricky Pyne and Dominic Sarle, who I think I remember from the Borgata. The first episode is a reverse whirlwind of biography. The key is to be interesting to someone, not tell them you are interesting. Still, the first time is awkward, they say. [8/1/2020] They make their guest name her age.

Podker

[added 2/24/2020] New and promising pod hosted by WSOP 2019 Player of the Robert Campbell and a broadcasting industry guy who Robert will teach to play better, Angus O’Louglin. Despite the horrible pod name, this one has a fun premise and should be good for aspiring players and tournament dragon chasers. [8/1/2020] Catching up with these guys, they don’t seem to be quite sticking to the premise. Probably best for the Down Under crowd for some cultural sympathy. [11/2021 may be dead]

The Rake

Big name pod with Marle and Jamie Kerstetter, 2019’s big splash poker girls teamed up for double the trouble and apparently to make RIO’s flagging columns firmer. A lot of media talent here, I just haven’t listened yet as I thought it was video only. [8/20] I realized it was hard for me to want to watch or listen to this poker podcast because of the cartoon iconography featuring forced laughter and unrecognizable, emoji level caricature, but now that Mason wants podcasts on his site, The Rake is only going to get bigger and I need to listen. With RIO behind them and being who they are, this podcast brings in all the poker elephants you can think of, so if poker celebs are your thing, you may not need another one. (Also, now that I realize “The Rake” is also a clever play on the Rounders line, the harridan advertising take makes a little more sense to me.) Starting with “Parker” Tonkaa or Neverlucky or such, a popular streamer who I guess takes his name from the toys in his room and from what I’ve seen, an actual +EV run in the equity lottery scene: remember the rule of opposites. The usual softballs. Parker says like, like, a million times, likely. Chuckles all around. Apparently other episodes answer fascinating questions like What Does Charlie Carrel Do All Day and Take 1,000,001 on Mike Postle. Not my thing, but this should be a very popular podcast format on the balance. Poker is an entertainment and a confidence game, a real murder of crows, but it’s also a desiccated and dessicating Hollywood without influence and so needs every star it can name: these two, who already do a lot for the game, can do even more with this podcast and will likely be with us for a long time. I see in the Apple comments section there are listeners who don’t even like poker, nice. Ciao, Bella. [2021] Marle has left the show and announced a new show, promising views on the world beyond poker. Ben Wilinofsky replaces her, but it’s likely dead, the novelty gone. Rating: 10% uncapped

Talking Global Podcast

Founded in January of 2020, this one focuses on the games at Global, which is a nice, focused idea. Global players Seanell & WizOfAz interview relative unknowns along with some classic MTT legends that apparently put in some hours on the site. [1/2022] Nice idea but looks abandoned in 2021.

Pocket Jaces

Poker and Magic, looks abandoned in late 2021.

Big Veetz – Las Vegas cash and tourney but looks dormant 2021

Poker and Magic the Gathering with Niall G. Can’t find it, probably uninteresting anyway; the poker/Magic thing is long since explored.

How to Win at Poker – might be dormant 2021, can’t tell with the awful title making it hard to separate it from web detritus.

Poker Table Talk

Not really poker but politics talk based on poker talk. Abandoned in 2021 after a good run.

The Lockdown Life

[8/20] Poker, gaming, sports, current but not many episodes yet. Seems to be abandoned in 2021 after a messy series of subjects.

Poker Life India

From a nation experiencing a poker boom, a one and done effort.

How Not To Lose at Poker

Found it too late, looks dormant now in 2021.

His and Hers Poker

This is one of a grouping of marginally acceptable strategy poker podcasts, rescued by the engaging twist of Husband and Wife sharing the felt. Unfortunately (but perhaps compellingly to some) Husband has a very creepy demeanor and voice, while also offering a blasé surety of strategy that just isn’t earned. In one episode, somehow a “loose-passive fishy guy” has “no discernible post-flop” patterns, an unusually bald contradiction. The advice to charge draws alone makes only marginal sense; you can’t exactly decide which part of a range will continue against you. They then endorse the worst candidate to bet, while dismissing a far better one per the drawing logic, as Husband’s actual holding blocks some of the very draws they want to charge. As the hand lurches toward disaster, the hosts together pooh-pooh the skills of the villain, all while Husband clicks his way into a dubious shove on a board which was against him from the start. I don’t want to go any further, because the plus side to this pod is actually significant: the pair cover real low-stakes games and their action, talking about games the average pod listener really plays in. Your squishy tables are packed with aspiring students of the game who think like they do. This is, at the very least, breathing, live low-stakes poker content, and the conspiratorial aspect of the couple strengthening their marriage through plotting against the neighborhood is a bit hypnotic. Rating: K8s [6/2021 may be abandoned, can’t tell as I thought they were moving to a paid model and could be missing the episodes]

The Fish to Final Table Podcast

New in 2020, briefly promising but looks dormant now.

Midstakes Poker Podcast

William Hung – yes that one – takes on making a career at poker. [9/2021] Name changed to “Bet On Your Future,” as Hung is apparently moving into the self-improvement hustle. Not sure where this is going.

Postflop Poker

A likable pod, sponsored by PokerNews [dismissed from PokerNews, likely in 2020 Covid belt tightening], with a solid narrative structure featuring pro and author Ben Hayles, hosted by Merv Harvey – hard to go wrong in entertainment with that name. Aimed at recreational poker players, this one is less anxious to impress than some of its competition, and does so all the more if only for that. Merv gives us the set up, including mercifully brief rundowns of local news, in the case of episode 87, the Australian poker scene. They segue to some obligatory nods to poker’s woman non-issue (clearly understood by their previous guest Sarah Herring far more pithily), then it’s onto the day’s subject. Pro Ben gives us a solid if slightly conservative interpretation of bomb pot strategy, and on we go, a solid pedagogical dynamic established between the two. I’d expect more of the same, overall. Ben is a very patient and reasonable instructor, and the novice will benefit from his unhurried common sense. Closed down 2021. Rating: KQo.

The Top Pair Poker Home Game Podcast

This one is self explanatory and should be of interest exclusively to its scene. Home games are the ground roots of poker and it’s great that there is this media for those truly dedicated. However, the show seems to be losing its way a bit, and has spent some time of late schmoozing with circuit and casino crawlers: Robbie Strazynski continues his wriggle up the media ladder. Interviews and tour coverage are already done elsewhere, including by his very smiling self: Quo vadis? [2/2021 RIP] Rating: Badugi

Pokerfuse

Another poker newscast/analysis pod to choose from, hosted by Mike Gentile and Nick Jones. Sounds reasonable overall but not gonna be able to listen to Gentile’s voice for too long. [Another 2020 RIP]

Poker Central

A low-key personality parade hosted by the popular, reasonable interviewer Remko Rinkema, who ultimately just couldn’t compete with the hostesses our eyes and ears want. Poker insider Brent Hanks provides significant additional energy, but without expert analysis or interesting opinions or a novelty focus, this show is a little tame. “Are you excited?” “How do you transfer your live skills to the online realm, where you have less things to look at?” is the stuff they ask Phil Hellmuth. Yadayadayada. As a promo for Pokergo stuff, it certainly fills its space, and if you need to know what rattles around in Randall Emmet’s noggin, here’s your home. Poker trivia: there’s less things to look at on poker podcasts, too.

Oddly enough, that’s changed, though: I catch up a few months later and see they are visual as well; it sounds like Hanks is gone; and Remko has become some sort of flaming bronabe, complete with a model hand saluting his prolonged adolescence, probably a theme for too many of us poker players. Podcasts like this remind you of politics; for many, it’s no longer for the audience but for the performers. Even Berkey, one of those elephants they march in and out quite a bit these days, and so good on so many accounts, comes up on his latest appearance with some pretty beaten tropes on his latest appearance; maybe it’s just the arena he finds himself in. Eventually though, and like any true professional, Remko is informed and able to swing away until he finally hits something, turning it around. Basically, this is a good pod that no one is passionate about but maybe that was never important. [abandoned in 2020] Rating: Potato, potahto [reborn as the WSOP podcast in 2021, see above]

The Heads Up Poker Podcast

I honestly hoped this podcast was about heads-up poker: crushed. Anyway, this one is an interview show – when they finally get around to it – by some hosts who sound a little exhausted. With what looks like five years of content, I don’t blame them one bit.  Basically these guys are the grown up versions of the dudes down the hall who kept laughing and hitting repeat on “Jesse’s Girl” while you wanted to sleep, somehow squeaked out the rent with a little tourney magic here and there, but shared a bowl with you the next day. (By the way, how does Carlos Welch appear on so many podcasts and still find time to actually play poker. Very suspicious.) [2/2021 The hosts have changed the name and substance, giving up on poker but trying to keep their audience. RIP] Rating: 44

LFG

Another PokerNews backed pod, this one is hosted by agreeable Borgata poker ambassador and newly minted stream commentator Jamie Kerstetter, as well as veteran poker writer Chad Holloway.  For now, the pod remains a trifle awkward, not helped by the goofy, heavy-handed intro, even having succeeded in their the stated focus on the mid-stakes scene. Holloway has an earthy baritone which tends to overwhelm the narration on some tracks, while Kerstetter’s proven wit seems to require the daily set-ups on Twitter. On the other hand, the source of wit is often common sense, and Kerstetter delivers this repeatedly, batting down absurdities in the community and pointing out things worth mentioning; Jamie is an excellent candidate to arbitrate disputes and will one day rise to positions of real importance in the industry – should she stay in it (I sense no). One thing LFG has also done extremely well is pick out lesser known but memorable characters such as Joey Galazzo and Ralph Massey for interviews; the stated mid-stakes mission is worth continuing. For now, it’s another fun personality and variety show that is best enjoyed by insiders and friends, but these two smart people should have the ability to lead this podcast, already nominated for a GPI award, somewhere bigger. LFG. Rating: 98s

Part-time Poker

Popular high-handed Twit Andrew Barber’s pod, possibly other hosts, might be abandoned. On a second look in March 2020, I realize this is more of a platform for different pods and hosts. Noted tournament staker Mark Herm does a great interview with Marle Cordiero. The latest one I see is Andreas Froehli hitting up Joey Ingram. Feels unfocused overall, but this pod may end up with some quality interviews. Their dedication to time-stamping is extreme. Rating: QJo [8/20] Abandoned.

Action Jackson’s Poker

[added 11/12/2019] Some significant gaps but possibly active. A few months later, I get to delve into this one a little when Action Jackson pods out in February and January. The show features a canned open with a voice actor, like Enhance Your Edge, but its host needs a more of Brad’s energy and general hosting chops to manage the listener. Instead, we hear a quiet, muffled voice recount some tournament hands. Short format, which could be used well, but AJ needs to make an effort to  connect with the listener to find his audience, and might do better as a sort of simple vlog; otherwise, this one will disappear. [8/20] Looks abandoned.

Tells

is Andrew Neeme’s effort to expand beyond his seminal and popular if peaking vlog work. It’s not really clear why he added this afterthought to what must be an exhausting production and travel schedule. The subject is supposed to be poker and relationships, and the subtext that, to rephrase the famous line, love is never having to be entertaining, will be liberating to some. I’d be afraid of sounding too negative if Neeme wasn’t perceptibly bored himself. Go fly a drone or something, buddy. [11/2021 Merciful God, there is a ‘what’s erotic to Andrew Neeme’ episode, but it seems to have crashed the podcast and is thankfully done. Rating: Unfavorable.

Fighting Chance

T

CPL

Long since abandoned. Midwest tourney stuff.

Poker Table Talk

Not really poker but politics talk based on poker talk.

Top Two

Might be abandoned. [3/20] Confirmed abandoned since 2018.

The Poker Model

Might be abandoned, last episode in 2019.

The Chip Herm Show

Definitely abandoned, but if the Herm is Mark Herm, it might be worth a listen.

The Mental Game Podcast (Jared Tendler)

Abandoned

2guystalkingpoker

Abandoned

Paul Phua Podcast

Poker Player

Jamie Staples Weekly Showdown – audio seems removed [2021]

Stone Cold Bluff – Abandoned

The Division of Poker (ESPN) – Abandoned

ESPN: The Poker Edge – abandoned

Full Contact (Daniel N.) – Abandoned/Daniel appears on DAT now

Michigan Poker Monster – Abandoned

Greek Grinder – Abandoned

Show Down – Interestingly, with Scott Seiver, but abandoned

Cash Plays (Bart Hanson) – Ended/Moved to CLP

Strategy Soundbites – Ended/Moved to CLP

TSS Poker – Abandoned

Midstakes Living – Abandoned

The Poker Podcast – Abandoned

Pokerati

Jack/King Off with Tony Valle – Abandoned

MTTOpenCourseware

Big Girl Poker Chat

Poker Diagram

Online Poker

Life After Poker

Jnandez Plenty of media already from this guy, I take it this one wasn’t an earner. Podcasting is a bit less monetized and pre-web 2.0. Communication for the love of it.

From High Stakes Poker To

Elevated Poker

A Hero’s Journey Lee D. makes this one a loss to the podcast community, maybe he will restart it.

The Poker Podcast

Pokers and Jokers – abandoned personality group project

 

Non-English Poker Podcasts

A very incomplete list: there are quite a few beyond these highlights.

German:

Side Pod & GRND, both German

RIT Brasilia

אס בגובה – YouTube

Pokercast.dk – Dansk podcast om poker

RMC French

5 thoughts on “Poker Podcasts 2024

  1. This is BJ from The Blinds Stealing the Blinds. Your rundown is much appreciated, and I’m curious if you have any feedback for how we might improve. Not sure what the rating “small and big” means, and we’re always looking to improve.

    1. Well, you seem to be experimenting with new openings, the latest of which seems to be a send up of Just Hands + Chasing Poker Greatness. This makes me think you’ll be finding your own way forward through experimentation, and that you’ll do just fine. Your biggest challenge is probably your podcast’s name, which is just a little long and awkward – notice how even you don’t quite get it right above, nor will the abbreviation to TBSTB ever be catchy. I’d just go with something simple like The Blinds, which doesn’t seem to be taken by anyone else, oddly.

  2. – Thanks for putting me on to Third Man Walking. Besides his great poker acumen, what clinches it for me is his clear elucidation and grammatical precision – is that the result of an elite Canadian education? He sounds quite Torontonian-lawerly.
    – Sessions also became an occasional listen, although I sometimes find it hard to bear with the clips he throws in from the HCL stream – they don’t transfer well to a purely listening experience. I very much sympathize with his need to win while balancing that with the demands of live streaming (High VPIP). I would suggest to DCAF that he can tighten up his game to lift his profits, and still be its core asset as the gamerunner.
    – I have yet to check out the Grid, mainly because I once heard an interview with Shahade and couldn’t stand her accent and cadence. Yet mavens all seem to like her as a person and she is undoubtedly a genius. I’ll give it a shot.
    – With regard to Thinking Poker, I’ve been a Brokos follower for years and Carlos Welch is a great addition to the podcast. However they did lose me a bit recently, having done down the (almost) exclusive path of promoting women in poker and more specifically women of color. While that is a worthy and noble path which offers many colorful stories from awesome women, it detracts from the poker oriented discussions. And the interviews were much too lengthy.
    – One more of my regulars is Tournament Poker Edge. Although Clayton can be a bit over the top with his shameless shilling of ACR and TPE (now semi-defunct), he is a personable host with good tournament instincts and his choice of hand reviews is usually interesting to me.

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